More than an ouchie
If President Bush succeeds in cutting career and technical education programs completely out of the federal budget – which he proposed doing this week - Florida would feel the sting. In the past couple of years, Florida has averaged about $69 million a year in federal career/tech money, which comes to more than 10 percent of its total in that area.
The federal money is funneled to high schools and community colleges, for use on everything from faculty salaries to equipment to curriculum development. And because it's targeted to low-income students, any cuts "would disproportionately impact individuals who need extra assistance," Hadi said.
If the past is any indication, the president won't get his way. The Bush administration has called for eliminating career and technical programs before, arguing that those programs are not boosting student performance in reading, math and science. But Congress, under both Republican and Democratic leadership, has continued to find the money. This year, the programs got $1.3 billion.
Ironically, Bush's budgetary diss of career/tech comes as Florida education leaders are pushing for it like never before. Just last week, Sen. Don Gaetz, the chair of the Senate education committee, made several stops in the Tampa Bay area to make his case for putting career/tech on the front burner (see St. Petersburg Times stories here and here, and Gradebook post here). In Florida, Hadi said, "there has never been a time when career and technical education has been seen as having greater value."
- Ron Matus, state education reporter