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Duncan Pressed on Perkins Blueprint and CTE Funding in Budget Hearing


April 30, 2014


Duncan Pressed on Perkins Blueprint and CTE Funding in Budget Hearing

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appeared before the House Education and the Workforce Committee on April 29 to discuss the Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request for education. He previously testified on the budget plan at a hearing of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee in early April.

The budget request proposes to level fund the Perkins CTE State Grant program at $1.118 billion—$5 million below the pre-sequestration level. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), the co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus, pressed Duncan on the level funding of CTE state grants, as well as the proposed set aside of $100 million in funds for a new competitive innovation grant. “I have concerns with the department’s proposal,” said Thompson. “Why does the department continue to prioritize spending of untested and often duplicative education initiatives when we have a tried and true solution in Perkins?” Duncan argued that the proposal was designed to more effectively utilize resources and to scale up high quality programs. He did not address how the lack of new investments in CTE would help to further these goals.  Rep. Thompson also noted the funding request letter sent to the appropriations committee urging an increase in Perkins funding for FY 2015. Thompson and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) spearheaded this bipartisan effort in the House.

Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) asked about department’s blueprint for the reauthorization of the Perkins Act and how the consortia requirement and in-state competition for Perkins funding included in the proposal might put CTE programs in rural school districts at a disadvantage.  While Duncan continued to endorse the change from the current in-state formula to competitive funding, he acknowledged the potential difficulties of mandating secondary and postsecondary consortia. “The consortia idea is one that we want to continue to think through,” said Duncan. He noted that the blueprint is over two years old and might be in need of updating. This is the first time a department official has mentioned updating the blueprint, and ACTE will be following any developments closely.

Additionally, there was discussion of postsecondary CTE as it relates to dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities in high school. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) highlighted her efforts to expand Pell grant eligibility for high school students in early college and dual enrollment programs, citing a similar proposal in the department’s budget request that would expand Pell grants for students co-enrolled in adult and postsecondary education as part of a career pathway. Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) promoted the idea of using early college models for CTE. Duncan indicated that he would like to find ways to encourage attainment of postsecondary credit or industry certification among high school students.

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