The mission of the nation’s career- and technical-education programs must change so that more students can earn a postsecondary credential or an industry-recognized certification rather than just a high-school diploma, the U.S. education secretary said on Tuesday.
In remarks during the joint spring meeting here of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium and the federal Office of Vocational and Adult Education, the secretary, Arne Duncan, also said that career- and technical-education advocates must make a compelling case for continued federal financial support by showing improved student outcomes.
Mr. Duncan’s speech comes less than a week after Congress approved a budget bill that cut roughly $138-million from the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, including the elimination of the Tech-Prep program and $35-million in reductions to state career- and technical-education grants.
He told the large crowd to expect more cuts in the Perkins Act for the 2012 fiscal year.
“I understand that these cuts will be hard for your programs,” he said. “And it was a difficult choice for us to make.”
Career- and technical-education programs serve a variety of learners, including high school students and prison inmates. Programs may be housed at community colleges, technology centers, and high schools. There are more than 15 million secondary and postsecondary career- and technical-education students in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
President Obama has urged every American to get at least a year of higher education or postsecondary career training. In effect, Mr. Duncan said, the president wants every American to earn a minimum of two pieces of paper—a high-school diploma, and a degree or industry-recognized certification.