CINCINNATI (TDB) -- President George W. Bush often has spoken about the need for American workers to keep their skill sets up-to-date in an unforgiving global economy. In 2004, while campaigning for reelection, he stopped in Toledo and sermonized on that topic in a city and state where globalization has chomped down hard -- and he pledged federal help. But it looks like he may not deliver the job-training goods.
"But one of the things we've got to recognize in our society as technology races through the economy, some people could conceivably be -- are being left behind because of the skill sets, and that we welcome innovation, productivity increases. These are all positive for labor stability, higher wages, better opportunity. But this country of ours must also recognize that the work force needs to be constantly trained to stay up with the technological advances," Bush said.
Now the White House wants to cut funding for career and technical education programs. White House Budget Director Rob Portman, an Ohioan and former congressman whose district included counties with some of the highest unemployment rates in the state, delivered a FY08 budget that proposes a $687 million reduction.
Portman may have hopes of someday running for statewide office in Ohio. The cut he suggested could come back to haunt him. Bush has stated, "The bedrock of America's competitiveness is a well-educated and skilled work force."
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who wants to win the '08 presidential primary, has quickly moved to challenge the proposed reduction in vo-ed spending. His state office in Sante Fe issued a statement saying, "As a result of the cut, students enrolled in programs could see their courses reduced or eliminated. If Carl Perkins Career Technical federal programs in New Mexico are eliminated, 48 districts and 1542,802 high school and post secondary students will be impacted in just the first year."
So far, not much from Ohio's leaders, or much from the other presidential candidates on this topic. Richardson is hammering away on the global competitiveness angle, and his education secretary went straight at it.
"New Mexico students need technology in the classroom to build 21st Century skills to be competitive in a global market," said Veronica Garcia. "The area hardest hit is professional development for the integration of technology into school curricula."
There is a lot of information about career tech HERE, including a study by supporters who make rather compelling arguments about its role in American competitiveness. Richardson's STATEMENT about the proposed budget criticizes the White House on several fronts. But the job-training money is critical for state's like Ohio, which are desperate to retool workers for the future.