Posted on the National Journal Education Expert Blogs
We are encouraged by President Obama’s emphasis on workforce skills in his State of the Union address. K-12 education can play a significant role here, but we have been concerned with the lack of clarification as to what “career” means in the preparation of students to be college and “career” ready.
Does career refer to job skills? Because if it does, the rhetoric does not match the actions. Perkins money is one of the last remaining sources of federal funding for vocational education and over the last two years it has been cut by 10% by the Obama administration. While millions of dollars have been allocated to competitive grants like Race to the Top, the Tech-Prep component of Perkins has been eliminated. There is currently talk of a House Republican proposal that would consolidate all of Perkins dollars into a funding stream for workforce investment that the Governors would control. Will the elimination of Perkins be one of the few bi-partisan efforts?
We seem to have turned our backs on vocational education and training at the high school level and then bemoan the fact that we have a shortage of skilled workers that do not necessarily require a college diploma. How about some clarification on what is meant by “career ready” and if it is job-required skills training, then let’s say so.