The full Senate and the House education committee approved separate bills last week to reauthorize the federal career and technical education program, showing no apparent appetite for President Bush’s proposal to eliminate its funding.
The Senate and House education committees unanimously approved legislation to renew the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act on March 9. A day later, the Senate approved its bill, 99-0. The measure has not yet reached the floor of the House.
Just weeks earlier, the Bush administration proposed eliminating the entire $1.3 billion program from the federal budget in fiscal 2006, and redirecting the money to the president’s $1.5 billion High School Initiative.
The proposal to scrap funding for the Perkins program has drawn broad opposition from vocational education advocates and a bipartisan cross-section of Congress.
Before voting to approve the reauthorization bill, which does not set the amount that will actually be appropriated for the program, several Democrats on the House Education and the Workforce Committee jabbed the president’s proposed cuts.
After listening to several Democratic rebukes of the administration’s proposal, Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, the chairman of the committee, retorted that such criticism amounted to needless partisanship considering the bipartisan support for the reauthorization bill.
“This underlying bill is a very clear signal for the intentions of Congress,” he said.
Department is Opposed
After the two committees’ actions, the Department of Education released letters sent by Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to Rep. Boehner and Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, expressing her “strong opposition” to both pieces of legislation.
The legislation to reauthorize the Perkins program “does little to address the current challenge that has been highlighted by President Bush and the nation’s governors to reform our nation’s high schools,” wrote Ms. Spellings. She added: “The Perkins Act requires fundamental changes to its mission and focus.”
A version of this article appeared in the March 16, 2005 edition of Education Week as Full Senate, House Panel OK Perkins Reauthorization