Federal Funding for Career and Technical Education: In Order to Ensure Their Fair Share of Federal Funding, It Is Important for Career and Technical Educators to Understand How It Works

Article excerpt

For the average man on the street or the average teacher in the classroom, federal funding for education can be a very complex thing created through an often-mysterious process. But with important legislation coming up for reauthorization in the next year, ACTE's government relations staff has offered to help us unlock some of that mystery.

Last year, when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was reauthorized, it contained reforms within Title 1, which targets economically disadvantaged students through a formula that distributes funds through states to school districts, as well as other areas. ACTE advocated against vouchers and block grants, and the bill did not have them when it was signed into law on January 8, 2002.

Here is a look at what's now on the horizon for career and technical education with regard to federal legislation.

The Perkins Act

The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998 provides funding for secondary and postsecondary career and technical education programs for July 1, 1999-June 30, 2004. It is scheduled for reauthorization by Congress in 2003.

The 2002 Legislative Handbook that was prepared for this year's National Policy Seminar by ACTE's government relations staff director Nancy O'Brien and legislative assistant Alisha Dixon--offers this explanation of Perkins funding allocations: "Perkins funds are provided to states that, in turn, allocate funds by formula to secondary and postsecondary schools. States receive two main grants under the Perkins Act, Basic State Grants and Tech Prep. States must distribute at least 85 percent of the Basic State Grant funds to local programs using either the needs-based formula included in the law or an alternate formula that targets resources to disadvantaged schools and students. States may reserve up to 10 percent for leadership activities and five percent (or $25,000, whichever is greater) for administrative activities. Of the 10 percent allocated for state leadership activities, states must reserve between $60,000 and $150,000 for services that prepare individuals for non-traditional training and employment and may reserve up to one percent for corrections."

O'Brien and Dixon also explain that, out of the 85 percent of funding earmarked for distribution to local schools, states may reserve 10 percent for needs not addressed by the formula. However, in order to qualify for this reserve set aside of funds, recipients must represent at least two of four types of areas:

* rural areas

* areas with high percentages of career and technical education students

* areas with high numbers of career and technical education students

* communities that lost funding because of changes in the secondary in-state distribution formula

The Perkins Basic State Grants provide program improvement support to secondary and postsecondary career and technical education programs. Eligible recipients include high schools, community colleges, technical colleges and area career tech schools. O'Brien states with pride that, "ACTE's advocacy efforts for increased funding for the Perkins Act have resulted in an $80 million increase--seven percent more--in funding for the Perkins Basic State Grants for fiscal year 2002."

For fiscal year 2003, ACTE, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) have joined together in submitting their own funding request for the Perkins Act. They are urging Congress to appropriate a $225 million increase for Perkins Basic State Grants.

The 1998 Perkins reauthorization included a separate authorization for tech prep, which had initially received support through the 1990 Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Act. For 2002, tech prep received a $2 million increase, and the Tech Prep Demonstration Act continued to be funded at $5 million. …