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Bush FY 2009 Budget Neglects Career Technical Education

President Bush looks to cut funding of the Perkins Act – a primary source of funding that supports local education programs that connect education and real-world careers.

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ALEXANDRIA, VA- The White House in February unveiled its Fiscal Year 2009 budget request, which eliminated funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

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The Perkins Act is the primary source of funding that supports local education programs that connect education and real-world careers, according to the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc). In order to meet education and workforce needs, Perkins should be funded at $1.7 billion for FY 2009.

Career and technical education (CTE) plays a critical role in providing the skills and knowledge essential for a competitive workforce. According to the Southern Regional Education Board, students at schools with highly integrated rigorous academic and CTE programs have significantly higher student achievement in reading, mathematics and science than do students at schools with less integrated programs.

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According to the Department of Labor, the 20 fastest growing jobs will require an associate’s degree, certificate or work-related training. CTE programs increase student engagement and innovative integration of math, science and literacy skills, which will meet the needs of both employers and the economy as a whole.

ACTE and NASDCTEc believe there should be an increased focus on CTE, which is an integral part of STEM and a solution to help meet the needs of the 21st century economy.

ACTE Executive Director Janet Bray commented, “We are extremely disappointed with the President’s decision to terminate Perkins funding this year. Not only does CTE play a critical role in providing the necessary skills and knowledge for students to remain competitive in today’s workforce, but it is an important part of school reform. These programs are helping to reduce dropout rates through engaging “hands on” coursework that improves student understanding and application of academic knowledge. Funding for the Perkins Act is essential, and it has already proven to be successful and should NOT be shortchanged.”

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“At a time when we’re discussing the need for economic stimulus to avoid recession, we should be investing in programs that put Americans into the many high skill, high wage jobs that are available, “said Rich Katt, president of NASDCTEc. “Instead, we stand today in disappointment and disbelief that President Bush has decided to once again eliminate career technical education, one of our nation’s leading workforce and economic development programs.”

In both FY 2006 and 2007, the Bush administration proposed to eliminate Perkins, but Congress rejected both of these proposals. In the FY 2008 budget, Bush proposed cutting the program by 50 percent, but Congress recommended a $25 million increase to $1.3 billion; unfortunately President Bush vetoed this proposal.

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The final FY 2008 budget included a $20 million decrease to funding due to across-the-board-budget cuts implemented in the final bill. The Perkins program has not received a substantial increase in funding since FY 2002. Funding must be increased, not cut, to help career and technical education programs continue to meet the education and training needs of the global economy.  

ACTE and NASDCTEc advocate jointly for career and technical education before Congress, the U.S. Department of Education, and the White House. The Perkins program is among our nation’s most important investments in high schools, a key component of our postsecondary and workforce development systems, and is vital to American business.

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