Earlier today, the Obama Administration released its annual budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. Unveiling the details of this document in a Northwest D.C. public school classroom, President Obama underscored his commitment to education while framing his budget proposals as a choice between two competing visions for America’s future ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.
“Our budget is about choices,” the President said before going on to call for “smart investments to create jobs and grow our economy and expand opportunity for every American.”
The Administration’s budget and accompanying press releases repeatedly cited investment in education as the cornerstone of the Administration’s underlying opportunity agenda. Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education echoed these sentiments.
“President Obama’s budget request reflects his strong belief that education is a vital investment in the nation’s economic competitiveness, in its people, and in its communities,” Secretary Duncan affirmed before adding that “too many students lack access to the quality education and supports that make the journey to college and the middle class possible.”
To that end, the Obama Administration’s FY 2015 budget request to Congress calls for $68.6 billion in appropriations for the U.S. Department of Education (ED). That figure represents a 1.9 percent increase over last year’s funding levels and much of the additional proposed funds are targeted to various competitive grant initiatives such as a new iteration of Race to the Top focused on “Equity and Opportunity” (RTT-Opportunity) and similar programs.
Of particular importance to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community is the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act’s basic state grant program. For FY 2015 the Administration requested $1.117 billion — the same amount the program will receive for FY 2014. Additionally, the President’s budget request calls again for a $100 million competitive CTE innovation fund along with $10 million for “Pay-for-Success” projects that would prioritize program development and strategies that target disconnected youth, expand rural access to CTE, and increase technology’s role in the classroom.
At ED’s budget briefing this afternoon, Secretary Duncan highlighted some of the progress ED believes it has made through these and other initiatives, but emphasized that “wide opportunity and achievement gaps continue to hurt many families, which puts our nation’s economy and future at risk.”
One of the most effective and proven strategies for closing this achievement and broader opportunity gap is through greater federal investment in CTE. However, requesting flat level-funding for these important programs, as the Administration has done, will not achieve the important goals the President and Secretary Duncan have laid out for the country.
A greater commitment to the CTE enterprise from the Administration is therefore needed in the coming fiscal year. In an effort to make good on the Administration’s promise, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) and its partners in the CTE community will be actively working in the coming year to advocate for $1.22 billion for the Perkins Act basic state grant program and the vital CTE programs it helps to support.
“Each year, the Administration has talked about the importance of education and its connection to restoring and growing the American economy, yet the budget proposal does not reflect this priority. Fully funding the Perkins Act would be a tremendous signal that the Administration is serious about closing the skills gap and ensuring all students have access to high-quality Career Technical Education,” said NASDCTEc’s Executive Director Kimberly Green.
“Career Technical Education has a proven track record of closing equity and achievement gaps and helping youth and adults to garner the skills and knowledge to secure good-paying jobs and enter further education. Rather than investing in new initiatives, we believe it would be better to fully fund Perkins – a program with a long, proven history of success.”
Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate