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Monday, 31 July 2006 17:00

Congress agrees to re-authorize Perkins Act

U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate negotiators agreed to renew the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act (S.250) for another six years. Despite President George W. Bush's proposal to leave the program unfunded in his next two fiscal year budget proposals, House and Senate conferees agreed to renew the Perkins Act. 

Under the Perkins Act, states receive grants for career and technical education at the secondary and post-secondary levels. High schools and community colleges are able to prepare students for careers that do not require a four-year degree.

Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate approved individual vocational education bills last year. The biggest difference between the two bills was the decision on how to manage the two grant programs covered under the Perkins Act. Tech-Prep, the smaller of the two grant programs, provides money for math and science classes to prep students for technical colleges. The Perkins program, the larger of the two, provides a substantially higher amount of money to classes in a wide variety of subjects in high schools and community colleges.

The conference agreement preserves both Tech-Prep and the Perkins program and allows states to use Tech-Prep grants for more expansive Perkins programs. Tech-Prep money is controlled by state governors who decide how to divide the money among local schools. Funding formulas decide how the Perkins program grants are dispersed.

Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, said, "We're protecting the role of states and local communities and asking for results in exchange for the money we're already spending at the federal level." Chairman McKeon and Senator Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, led the negotiations.

Last year, the Perkins Act provided $1.18 billion in state grants. The Senate and House conferees agreed to reauthorize $1.3 billion in grants.




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