Decreased Funding for Vocational Schools: Raising Quality or Limiting Opportunity?

Vocational programs are a refuge for high school students who might not be interested in, or capable of, attending college. Though many otherwise mediocre students excel in vocational schools, a federal government move to cut state funding may put these programs in jeopardy.

View popular schools

By Sarah Wright

training

Federal Cuts for Public Vocational Education

Traditional academic subjects are fun for some students, and a boring chore for others. Many people can agree that some people just aren't intellectually well disposed to excel in school, but unfortunately, formal education is extremely important in most job fields, particularly in a competitive economy. For these students who don't excel in subjects like English and math, vocational school has long been an option that provides structure and training for future employment.

Vocational education, occasionally referred to as career and technical education (CTE), is available through both public and private, for-profit institutions. Public vocational schools are funded by the states in which they are located, but much of that state funding comes from federal grants. In President Obama's budget for 2012, funding for CTE dropped from $ 1,271.7 billion to $1,007.9 billion. This significant drop has worried some supporters of CTE.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

The Case For, and Against, Vocational Education

Supporters of CTE say that it is a vital component in our educational system. It provides an alternative path for students who might get discouraged by poor performance in traditional academic fields. According to a recent article in The New York Times, vocational education advocates feel that some U.S. citizens would never complete any type of formal education if CTE was not an option. CTE provides applicable career training for students who might otherwise drop out if forced to continue to struggle in literature and history classes.

Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan has a different point of view on vocational education. In a speech delivered on April 19, 2011, Duncan pointed out that education needs to be about more than simply getting a job. Students of all kinds need to be prepared to enter careers, he said, and CTE doesn't always provide its students with the skills and knowledge they need to advance into sustainable careers.

Is Balance the Answer?

The federal cuts to CTE funding will no doubt upset supporters of this type of education, and may set a precedent that could lead to a severe downturn in the availability of public vocational training in the U.S. The Department of Education extols the benefits of rigorous education, but that argument seems to ignore the fact that trying to force certain types of students into a role they aren't interested in is likely to backfire. Still, it's not an invalid point of view that more U.S. citizens should have the ability to hold a job and advance if they want to.

The answer to the problem may be to see vocational education as an educational option that can exist alongside core academic subjects, rather than in opposition to them. And while the for-profit education sector has recently come under fire for producing less-than-ideal results for students, the current economic state means that the federal budget will have to be tightened, even in areas that seem vital to some, like CTE funding. Perhaps the answer is a balance between for-profit and public schools, and between vocational and academic education.

Another non-traditional path to career education is a gap year between high school and college.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path, Executive Leader Specialization
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice
    • Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path
    • Master of Science in Legal Studies
    • MS in Psychology
    • MBA
    • Master of Public Health
    • MBA - Human Resources
    • MBA - Health Care Management
    • BS in Liberal Studies
    • BS in Business Administration
    • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Investment Career Focus Area
    • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
    • BS in Nutrition Science
    • BSFIN in Accelerated MS Finance
    • AAS in Business Administration - Business
    • AAS in Legal Support and Services
    • AAS in Business Administration
    • AAS in Business Administration - Food & Hotel Management
    • AAS in Business Admin-Office Management
    • AAS in Criminal Justice
    • Medical Office Administration Certificate
    • Human Services Certificates in Child and Family Services
    • Pathway to Paralegal Postbaccalaureate Certificate
    • Medical Billing and Coding Certificate
    • Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate
    • Executive Leader Graduate Certificate

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Transitional Doctorate of Physical Therapy
    • MBA in Health Care Management
    • MBA in Finance/Accounting
    • MBA in General
    • MS in Healthcare Administration
    • MA in Financial Crime and Compliance Management
    • MS in Data Science: Social Science Analytics
    • BS in Cybersecurity - Network Forensics and Intrusion Investigation
    • RN to BSN
    • BS in Cybersecurity - Cybercrime and Fraud Investigation
    • BS in Cybersecurity - Information Assurance
    • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
    • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • MA in Communication
    • Master of Liberal Arts
    • MA in Science Writing
    • MS in Applied Economics
    • MS in Geographic Information Systems
    • MS in Bioinformatics

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Doctor of Business Administration - Management
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Special Education
    • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Cognition and Instruction
    • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Industrial and Organizational Psychology
    • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
    • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors
    • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
    • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
    • MS in Psychology: General Psychology
    • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
    • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
    • BS in Psychology
    • B.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology
    • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
    • BS in Early Childhood
    • BS in Elementary Education / Special Education (Dual Major)

    What is your highest level of education?

    • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
    • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
    • MSHS in Molecular Diagnostic Sciences
    • MSHS in Translational Microbiology
    • MA in Education and Human Development in Secondary Special Education and Transition Services
    • MA in Education and Human Development in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
    • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
    • BSHS in Medical Laboratory Sciences
    • BSHS in Biomedical Informatics

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Science in Finance
    • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
    • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
    • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration
    • Master of Arts in Economics
    • Master of Public Administration and Policy
    • Master of Science in Agile Project Management
    • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Business Administration with a General Business Specialization
    • Master of Business Administration - Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise Concentration
    • Master of Business Administration - Finance Concentration
    • Master of Business Administration - Human Resource Management Concentration
    • Master of Business Administration - Hospitality and Casino Management Concentration
    • Master of Business Administration - International Business Concentration

    What is your highest level of education completed?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?