Senator Hillary Clinton and BMCC President Antonio Perez Call for Continued Support of Perkins Act

December 4, 2002


December 4, 2002

New York, NY—Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Dr. Antonio Pérez, president of Borough of Manhattan Community College, called for continued support of the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act. The Perkins Act funds a host of vocational and technical programs at high schools and colleges.

The Bush Administration has proposed eliminating the $1.2 billion Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act from the 2004 Federal Budget. Community colleges, such as BMCC, and high schools across the country rely on the Perkins grant for vocational and technical programs and supplemental instruction to support those programs.

“I am deeply concerned that the Administration is considering eliminating the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education program. These funds are critical for preparing students to succeed in today’s economy and are relied upon by high schools and community colleges all across New York,” Senator Clinton said at the December 3 press conference at Borough of Manhattan Community College.

“BMCC is the largest recipient of Perkins Awards in New York State,” Dr. Perez said. Borough of Manhattan Community College receives $1.6 million annually from the Perkins Act, which directly benefits 10,000 of BMCC’s 18,000 students. “This demonstrates the extent of our students’ need,” Dr. Perez pointed out. Perkins funds are awarded on the basis of student need.

BMCC uses funds from the Perkins program to pay for: support services for learning disabled students; writing center activities; supplemental instruction in 26 targeted courses and 49 gatekeeper courses; online instructional support; multimedia equipment; weekend and evening staff support for labs; three career advisors for students in non-traditional career programs; test preparation workshops; distance education for students in the supplemental instruction program; a technical mentor for the media center; and a career office website.

The Bush Administration proposal would shift money from the Perkins program to help make up some of the $3 billion shortfall in Pell Grants, the federal financial aid program that helps low-income students attend college.

“We’re robbing Perkins to pay for Pell, and that is a terrible idea, especially for those who know that investing in education and our future workforce helps our economy grow stronger,” Senator Clinton said.

This year, 65 community colleges and high schools across New York State received $62 million in Perkins Funds. In New York State, Perkins Funds directly benefit 475,000 students. Community colleges in the City University of New York received $9 million, and New York City high schools received $15 million in Perkins Funds.

“In these tough fiscal times we need to honor our commitment to providing the necessary resources to our schools and community colleges. Now more than ever we need to support the thousands of students who are looking to our community colleges to give them the skills they need to thrive in the competitive job marketplace. We cannot afford to short-change our students when it comes to their education,” Senator Clinton said.

Senator Clinton said she had written to President Bush asking him to reconsider the elimination of the program. She urged members of the college community to write to the President, to their elected officials, and to members of Congress nationwide telling them how vital Perkins Funds are to students.

You may view a streaming video of the press conference online.

share this story »