More than ever before government leaders are scrutinizing their investments and tying funding to programs that demonstrate a return on investment (ROI), even in the areas of education. A new flow of federal monies will be allocated selectively to programs that can or have the potential to provide the most bang for the buck. But before government leaders scour for new programs to invest in, a recent article on Forbes.com warns them not to overlook existing programs that have a history of delivering a positive return.
The article, Risking America’s Return on Investment, focuses on the effectiveness of federal TRIO programs, which are dedicated to assisting low-income students to succeed in college. However, the message can also apply to the many career technical education (CTE) programs under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which has helped serve the same student demographic and shares a range of success stories. Like TRIO, Perkins funding has remained stagnant for too many years.
Arnold L. Mitchem, President of the Council for Opportunity in Education and author of the article, praises leaders such as President Obama for supporting education funding and seeking a range of avenues for achieving ROI, but notes a risk.
“It’s a good and noble idea, but our country is at risk of having a negative ROI if it fails to invest in programs that have proven records of helping historically disadvantaged students succeed,” Mitchem said.
NASDCTEc recently published Return on Investment in CTE, which highlights programs in three states – Oklahoma, Tennessee and Washington – that have data indicating students in their programs earn higher wages than their non CTE peers, contribute more to their state in tax revenue, and have better postsecondary outcomes.
Quality CTE programs have a record of providing a ROI and it is only appropriate that government leaders consider the longstanding existing programs when shopping for worthy programs to fund.