Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified before the House twice this week concerning the Obama Administration’s FY12 education budget – on Wednesday before the House Education and the Workforce Committee and Thursday in front of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.
During the Education and the Workforce hearing, Rep. Glenn Thompson (PA) asked the Secretary why the Administration was proposing to cut Perkins CTE funding when CTE students outperform their peers in math and science. Thompson also wanted to know how schools could be expected to offer higher quality CTE programs with fewer resources. Duncan responded that results from Perkins-funded programs across the country are mixed – some are great, but some are antiquated, so schools must learn from what is working and replicate.
At today’s appropriations hearing, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA) also asked the Secretary about the proposed cuts to Perkins, noting that CTE programs lead students to high wage, high skill, high demand careers through career pathways at a time when skilled workers are needed more than ever. Like Thompson, she said that CTE students in her district outperform non-CTE students in math and reading, and graduate high school at a higher rate. Again, Duncan responded that some CTE programs are great, while others are not, and that they made the tough decision to “cut where we could, to invest where we must.”
It is clear from the Secretary’s answers that more consistent data about outcomes is needed to show the Administration that CTE programs are serving students well and leading to high achievement and high graduation and completion rates. Until we can tell a different story about CTE than the one Duncan is familiar with, cuts to Perkins may become a reality.