Magazine article Techniques

What If Perkins Disappeared?

Magazine article Techniques

What If Perkins Disappeared?

Article excerpt

How much is $1.3 billion? To put it in perspective, if you laid 1.3 billion one-dollar bills end to end, it would circle the globe more than five times. No matter how you look at it, $1.3 billion is a lot of money. Unfortunately for career and technical education (CTE), it's the minimum amount programs across the country would lose if the Administration's recently released budget proposal is accepted by Members of Congress.

For the second year in a row, the Administration has proposed to completely eliminate the funding for the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act. While it is true that states and localities cover many of the costs of operating CTE programs around the country, the federal investment, through the Perkins Act, is critical to maintaining high-quality programs that prepare students for further education and the workplace.

But it's not just the $1.3 billion that is at stake. The Perkins Act also contains two other provisions that directly impact funds available to support local CTE programs.

First, the law requires that states continue to invest as many resources in CTE as they have in the past, as long as the federal appropriation stays level or increases. This is called "maintenance of effort." Without federal funding, states have little added incentive to maintain CTE funds during a time of ever increasing budget pressure and cuts across programs.

A second provision, known as "matching," requires that states match dollar-for-dollar the federal funding that is available for administrative expenses at the state level. This guarantees additional resources at the state level to support local programs.

So what would happen if the Perkins funds disappeared?

Less Professional Development

In rural northwestern Wisconsin, a large percentage of Perkins funds is used to pay for resources and professional development to help teachers improve. One summer workshop brings together both academic and technical teachers from K-12 and technical college systems to encourage coordination that leads to stronger student transitions. Software and technology, such as new GPS systems for agriculture classrooms, help keep programs on the cutting edge of advancement.

Perkins funds are also used to help lower-income students pay for tuition, books and the certification exam for dual-enrollment health science classes leading to a Certified Nursing Assistant credential. With the critical nurse shortage in the area, this program is essential to helping students succeed. Without Perkins, these programs would not be possible.

Less Student Support

Educators at career centers in northeastern Ohio use Perkins funds for a variety of student support services and program improvement. At Wayne County Schools Career Center, administrators say that a loss of Perkins funds would create a domino effect that would ultimately impact student achievement and the local and state economies that depend on CTE programs for highly skilled employees. Mike Hall, principal at Wayne County, elaborated, "Without Perkins, staff would not be able to stay current with professional development and trends in education. We would have real problems offering programs like summer school and extra help sessions to increase student achievement. Our equipment has to be state of the art to stay current with industry standards--if we fall behind industry's needs, we can no longer provide a high-quality workforce to employers."

In Medina County, Ohio, a portion of the federal Perkins funding is used for remediation specialists who work with students in both academic and technical classes and help students prepare for the Ohio graduation test. In past years, the school has had a 100 percent pass rate on the Ohio Proficiency Test. Peggy Reeves, associate principal, says, "Losing Perkins funds would severely harm our ability to provide critical services to support students toward success. …

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