If in FY 2010 the budget for L, H, HS and E appropriations, meaning Labor, Health, Human Services and Education, was $1.27b, and it had not increased since 2002, and if funding has actually decreased for Perkins programs by $42m, then those facts alone strongly suggest that funding should be increased at least by the suggested amount of $1.4b.
Another important fact to be considered is that enrolment in CTE has increased by more than 6 million students since 1999. In the 2006-2007 school year, CTE enrolment was reportedly at 15.6 million students. In recent years there have been record increases and many programs are reported to have waitlists. The enrolment facts appear to be another huge reason why funding should be increased to the suggested level at the least.
In addition to the above, the economy itself is crying out for skilled workers to join the workplace straight out of high school. CTE programs help shorten the delays associated with long years of training after high school. As the ACTE Executive Director has said, it makes no sense to aim at increasing education funding while leaving out Perkins programs when today’s competitive workforce cries out for skilled school leavers.
What I do find lacking in our discussion of this topic is credible evidence that Carl D. Perkins programs have been evaluated, and that the evaluations unmistakably show that the programs are on target, that they are producing the results expected, and that there is no wastage of financial resources. I think more attention should be paid to the proper and judicious use of evaluation techniques so that each and every program receiving federal funding can itself provide sufficient proof that it is doing what it was supposed to be doing. Perhaps skeptical politicians will be persuaded when CTE programs provide product evaluation results showing that they are using the funds correctly. Let the programs speak for themselves.
Enrollment numbers alone do not tell the complete story. We need to continue to argue vociferously for the continuance of, and increase in, appropriations for the of the Perkins funding, but we also need performance data to buttress our position and illustrate what we already believe is true, namely, that the Carl D. Perkins programs are a crucial element in our economy, and that they are providing the skills needed by the economy. Enrolment figures are certainly not enough to convince the public and lawmakers, especially in these tough economic times.
In my view, there is not so much a need to “fight” as there is one to “produce convincing evidence” of where we stand. Let us “fight” AFTER producing the performance results.