Magazine article Techniques

Perkins Funding Again Threatened in Bush Budget

Magazine article Techniques

Perkins Funding Again Threatened in Bush Budget

Article excerpt

The White House's FY 2005 budget request released February 2nd includes severe cuts to career and technical education (CTE) programs that, if enacted, would prove devastating to education and training programs in American high schools and postsecondary institutions. In the $2.4 trillion federal budget request for FY 2005 (school year 2005-2006), the Bush Administration has, once again, requested deep cuts to the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act.

The Administration is requesting an approximate 25% cut to funds for career and technical education, and is again requesting to eliminate the Perkins program and replace it with a $1 billion block granted program titled the Secondary and Technical Education State Grants program. The budget further seeks to eliminate all programs funded under the Perkins Act, including Tech Prep, the Tech Prep Demonstration project, Occupational and Employment Information (Section 118), and national programs.

"Such a cut would force already cash-strapped schools, training programs, and community colleges, to reduce or eliminate programs that are working in communities across the country," said Tom Applegate, President of the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

The President's request is only the first step in the lengthy annual budget and appropriations process, and Congress ultimately makes funding decisions for individual programs. Similar deep cuts to Perkins were requested by the Bush Administration last year, but Congress rejected these cuts and recently appropriated more than $1.342 billion to Perkins for FY 2004. "Many lawmakers have recognized the value of career and technical education," Applegate added. "These programs are crucial to training the workforce of the 21st century and are essential to economic development."

What Do Such Severe Cuts Mean for CTE?

These cuts mean real dollars lost for CTE programs in schools and postsecondary programs in communities across the country (see chart of state-by-state estimates of Perkins funding cuts, page 11). But the impact is more than dollars and cents. It means hard choices for administrators and teachers, programs lost, and of greatest consequence of all, crucial skills-building and educational opportunities diminished or denied for CTE students in our nation. Cuts to Perkins could mean loss of funds for equipment, professional development, career guidance and counseling, integration of academic and technical skills, career and technical student organizations, and program improvement.

In an era of tight state budgets, there is little evidence that states or schools would he able to find additional funds to cover the loss of Perkins funds, should these cuts become reality. Many CTE professionals fear that programs that make a difference in student's lives, prepare the workforce of the 21st century, and meet the needs of local businesses would go away with cuts to Perkins funds.

Cuts would also mean reductions in state matching funds. "States can't make up the difference," warned Belinda McCharen, Associate State Director of Career and Support Services in Oklahoma. "Our schools use much of our Perkins dollars to upgrade equipment and curricula. These cuts would force schools to decide between programs. Some programs would likely go away."

Career and technical educators at the local level share these concerns. Perkins provides critical resources to improve programs, implement new programs aligned with business needs, and assures a strong accountability system for career-technical education, said Bob Sommers, CEO of Buffer Tech and Career Development Schools in Ohio. "A 25% cut will hamper our efforts to enhance our business-education adult workforce education program, our performance data collection systems, our relationship with the area One Stop, and jeopardizes the strong linkages we have with area community colleges."

CTE Works! …

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