November 17, 2005
The Honorable Michael B. Enzi
The Honorable Edward "Ted" M. Kennedy
The Honorable John Boehner
The Honorable George Miller
Dear Chairman Enzi, Senator Kennedy, Chairman Boehner, and Representative Miller:
Across the country, governors are working to improve our nation's high schools, reduce the high school dropout rate, and improve the rigor and relevance of coursework to ensure that students are prepared for the demands of postsecondary education or work. The Perkins reauthorization is an important component of high school reform. Career and technical education can bridge the transition between high school and postsecondary education by providing students with real-world skills to better prepare for the 21st century workplace.
S. 250, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2005, and H.R. 366, the Vocational and Technical Education for the Future Act will provide enhanced state flexibility to administer career and technical education programs while increasing accountability within these programs. Both bills also will strengthen the academic rigor of career and technical education programs and better align programs with the needs of businesses. While governors are encouraged by these changes, we hope that you will incorporate the following recommendations into the final conference agreement:
Uphold Unspent Funds Provision
Congress should uphold current law for redistribution of unspent federal funds at the local level. Specifically, S. 250 ensures that funds unspent by local recipients are returned to the state at the end of the year to be reallocated or included in its distribution the following year. It is important for states to maintain this flexibility and authority to maximum usage and target limited federal resources to students and communities with the greatest or unique needs.
Support the Flexible Basic State Grant Allocation
Governors urge Congress to support the basic state grant allocation in S. 250 (85 percent local and a flexible 15 percent or $750,000, whichever is greater for state leadership and administrative activities). Effective statewide innovations are fundamental to align Perkins with other state high school and postsecondary education reforms, as well as to develop reliable data collection systems.
Oppose 2 Percent Cap on State Administration Funding
Governors oppose the House reduction on state administrative funds and support provisions in S. 250 that would provide states with significantly enhanced flexibility to coordinate, implement, and administer reforms. Both bills mandate new state accountability and performance provisions that must be balanced with adequate, flexible administrative resources to effectively administer the program.
Provide States with the Option to Combine Tech Prep funding with Basic State Grants
Governors encourage Congress to incorporate a provision that would give states the authority to combine Tech Prep funding with the Basic State Grant. In this manner, Congress could enhance the flexibility in career and technical education to meet each unique state situation while preserving the Tech Prep program.
Continue Reservation of Funds for Innovation
Governors support the language in S. 250 that provides states with the option, after input from local school districts, to use a portion of funds to support innovative statewide initiatives benefiting local programs. This important provision would encourage state and local innovation through such activities as teacher professional development or technical assessment initiatives. This flexibility also would better enable states and local communities to respond quickly to changing needs in the labor market and economy.
Preserve Section 118
H.R. 366 and S. 250 would preserve the Occupational and Employment Information (Section 118). Governors urge Congress to reauthorize and fund this program. Although Sec. 118 is a small program, it provides millions of students and workers with valuable state specific career information on possible vocations and the requisite academic or skills training.
Thank you for your commitment to reauthorizing this critical program.
Governor Tim Pawlenty
Governor Kathleen Sebelius
cc Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Members
House Committee on Education and the Workforce Members