Several big organizations, in a letter to President Obama, are calling for more federal support for career and technical education (the subject formerly known as voc-ed). The primary federal vehicle for those efforts right now is the Perkins program, currently funded at more than $1 billion a year. I’ve seen Perkins, which was reauthorized a few years ago, described as the largest single high school program in the country.
President Bush repeatedly sought to kill the Perkins program, and got nowhere, probably at least partly because of career-and-tech programs’ strong popularity in Congress. Critics have said that career-oriented programs do too little to challenge students academically (here’s a story I wrote in 2004 on the issue). The education organizations point to research they say indicates career-and-technical education plays an effective role in dropout prevention. I wrote about an approach to integrating math in CTE courses a few years, which was studied by the federal government and found to be effective.
There’s been speculation that community colleges, which play a big role in Perkins, could receive special attention from the Obama administration, partly because of the backgrounds of some of the key nominees to fill jobs at the U.S. Department of Education.
Your thoughts: Should the federal government be directing more funding toward Perkins? Or should funds be directed toward other federal efforts?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.