No time for fools? President’s budget eliminates useful funding

By Andrew Alemao 2007

Apparently learning to cook food, carve wood and run a business are no longer important skills. At least it appears that’s what our president would have me believe. Good thing I know better.

President Bush has proposed to not only cut but completely eliminate Perkins funding for the fiscal year 2007. Contrary to most students’ quickly drawn conclusion, this decision will be more likely to affect the nation’s school systems than night owls who crave coffee and muffins at two in the morning. Perkins funding is used to fund vocational and technical education programs at American high schools. This money is usually used to purchase expensive but necessary equipment for the family and consumer science, industrial tech and business programs as well as the agriculture programs in more rural schools. Without Perkins funding, these programs could suffer dramatically

Since vocational and technical education is career oriented, it is extremely beneficial to students who already have career interests they intend to explore after high school, such as the culinary arts or woodworking. Wood tech teacher Troy Becker said, “The elimination of the Perkins Bill would be devastating to our industrial technology program.”

The appliances and technology that the programs fund are extremely helpful to students. But according to Becker, “If Bush kills Perkins, he’s putting our very ability to teach students to used technology in jeopardy.”

If the decision to cease funding Perkins is upheld by Congress, it will be up to the school district to fund the equipment needs of its family and consumer science, business and industrial tech programs by itself. Family and consumer science department head Gayle Bruene said, “With Perkins gone, we would have to fund the equipment through other budgets, and that would possibly short other departments.” So it’s clear that if funding for career-oriented education is cut , English, science, math and social studies programs might also suffer.

Former representative and democrat Dave Nagle is also very critical of the president’s proposal. “It’s short-sighted and foolish if we’re trying to be a competitive country, “ Nagle said.

As of right now, the bill is only just a proposal, but according to Nagle, Congress cannot be relied upon to entirely shoot it down. “I don’t think the president will get the full cuts, but Congress will probably give him some of it,” he said.

So on is left to wonder where the Perkins funding is headed if it’s no longer headed to vocational and technical education. “Part of it is going to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy,” Nagle speculated. He also suggested that the excess dollars would be spent on defense, and, consequently, the war in Iraq.

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