PERKINS CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION FUNDING
Mr. President, I rise today in strong support of the Harkin amendment. I am proud to be a cosponsor of this amendment, which preserves funding for Perkins career and technical education for the next five years. While the Administration has determined that Perkins is ineffective, I rise today to defend Perkins and highlight its proven effectiveness in my home state of Wisconsin.
Perkins provides over $24 million in education and job training to Wisconsin students. These funds are allocated between the Wisconsin Technical College System and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
Over the past five years, 97% of Wisconsin's high schools have participated in the federally funded Perkins career and technical education programs. This includes over 98% of 11th and 12th grade students, as well as secondary special students in the state. As the result of this investment in career and technical programs, 96% of Wisconsin students completing high school career and technical education programs graduate, compared to the state's overall graduation rate of 91%.
The Wisconsin Technical College System and its 16-member colleges receive $13 million in Perkins funding to reach 25,000 students statewide. Students who qualify for Perkins-funded services are those most in need of assistance to ensure their future success in the workforce. Many are academically and economically disadvantaged. Some have disabilities, are single parents or have limited English proficiency. These students are provided counseling, disability support services, services related to increasing students enrolled in non-traditional occupations, remedial instruction, and transition services that help students successfully move from K-12 education to technical colleges and from technical colleges to the workforce.
Our technical colleges have demonstrated success in helping their students meet these unique challenges. Six-months after graduation, 91% of graduates are employed with an annual median salary of over $30,000. Five years after graduation, 97% are employed making nearly $36,000 a year. These graduates positively contribute to their communities and meet the needs of local businesses.
The loss of Perkins funding would significantly weaken our nation's educational quality and economic competitiveness. This amendment is fully offset and provides deficit reduction. I urge my colleagues to support Senator Harkin's amendment to ensure that students in Wisconsin and elsewhere continue to benefit from Perkins to compete in the 21st century economy.