Editor’s note: The following is a letter from Sen. Charles Grassley to Acting U.S. Labor Secretary Seth D. Harris in response to the decision to freeze student enrollment at Job Corps centers across the country, including Ottumwa.
Dear Acting Secretary Harris,
I’m writing regarding the recent decision by the Department of Labor to suspend all new student enrollments to Job Corps. This decision will not only have negative consequences for disadvantaged youth hoping to enroll in this education and training program, but it also calls into question the administration and management of the Job Corps program and its resources.
I understand the enrollment suspension is in response to an account shortfall for the 2012 program year. This shortfall comes after a similar shortfall in the 2011 Job Corps account that led to cost-saving measures last year. It’s difficult to understand how program funding shortfalls could occur in consecutive years that have resulted in lost education and training opportunities at the nation’s 125 Job Corps centers.
I share the concerns expressed by many of my Senate colleagues in a letter to you dated January 25, 2013, particularly concerning the Department’s failure to identify the causes of the budget shortfall, the failure to provide detailed justification for the enrollment suspension, and the failure of the Department to take actions that provide financial stability for the program. It’s clear the management and oversight of the Job Corps program has been deficient, and it’s unfortunate and disappointing that our nation’s disadvantaged youth will suffer the consequences of this failure. It’s my hope that the Department can resolve this shortfall in a manner that will end this enrollment freeze as quickly as possible.
Thank you for your consideration.
Senator Charles E. Grassley