Chamber calls for return of Career and Technical Education funding
by Glendale Chamber of Commerce on January 28th, 2016

By BILL TOOPS, Publisher

Last week, the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, along with some 50 statewide business and professional organizations, signed a letter of support calling for the restoration of Career and Technical Education funding to Arizona’s schools. The letter will now be sent to every member of the state Legislature, as well as the individual members of the participating organizations.

Career and Technical Education programs prepare high school students to enter the workforce with the academic and vocational skills needed to compete successfully in the job market. CTE courses typically include competency-based learning and are offered by public, private and charter schools throughout the state.

The CTE programs in the Glendale Union High School and Peoria Unified School districts will be significantly impacted by the budget cuts being proposed this legislative session. Locally, cuts may exceed $3.2 million to programs provided by GUHSD and PUSD, while the statewide sum will be substantially more staggering.

“Education matters to our organization, the entire business community, and is essential to our continued success,” said Robert Heidt, president and CEO of the Glendale Chamber.
The letter states in part, “Career and Technical Education must support the equally important outcomes of a strong graduation rate and a robust talent pipeline for employers. Any erosion of CTE participation puts our graduation rate increases at risk.”

It further states, “The ‘career’ readiness in college and career ready is part and parcel to CTE programming and outcomes. Without it, we become a one-track system and for this reason must eliminate the ‘skills penalty’ embedded in last year’s cuts that reduces base funding for any student participating in a career-track course.”

GUHSD offers 28 CTE programs across nine campus sites. Almost one-third of the district’s enrollment, some 5,000 students, participate in CTE programs and are also eligible to attend additional programs offered by the Western Maricopa Education Center. The cuts currently scheduled to go into effect for 2016-17 total nearly half of GUHSD’s CTE funding, which may tally up to $1.7 million.

According to the district officials, CTE is an integral component of preparing all students for college and career opportunities after graduation. GUHSD believes CTE students leave programs well prepared for post-secondary education and/or entry into a selected career field. Many have obtained or are prepared to obtain industry credentials and have typically set career and educational goals and are focused on their career pathway.

Since the funding cuts have not yet taken effect, district officials have only begun to plan what future CTE offerings will look like. But with the scale of cuts being considered, CTE is not sustainable and will impact all 5,000 students as programs will be discontinued, certification opportunities will be cancelled and within three years, few if any opportunities will be offered.
Officials warn the programs that do remain will not have adequate resources to maintain high-quality industry standards for district students, while the bigger impact will be sustained by the Arizona economy because GUHSD will not have the programs to provide a workforce for its business and industry partners.

“We are extremely grateful for the Glendale Chamber’s efforts to restore Career and Technical Education funding,” said GUHSD Superintendent Brian Capistran. “Glendale Union High School students are graduating with the skills necessary for lifelong success. The continued partnership between education and business and communities is vital to the development of our workforce and our economy.”

PUSD currently offers 25 CTE programs in all seven of its high schools with more than 15,000 students participating in 16 Career Clusters. The proposed 7.5 percent funding cut would result in an estimated $1.5 million loss to the district, impacting virtually all 15,000 CTE students.
Peoria CTE provides opportunities for students to achieve industry credentials upon graduation, as well as dual enrollment toward associate and bachelor degrees. Ninety-five percent of PUSD graduates take at least one CTE course, while 85 percent take two or more prior to graduation.

Peoria CTE has been recognized both statewide and nationally for providing the Total CTE Program Model to its students: Rigorous classroom instruction provided by recognized CTE teachers, hands-on laboratory instruction, personal leadership development through CTE student organizations, and work-based leaning opportunities with business partners while applying core skills such as reading, writing, speaking, technology and employability skills within a career field.

“We are appreciative of all efforts from our community and business leaders to ensure our students have the resources they need to be successful” said PUSD Deputy Superintendent Heather Cruz. “It would be extremely unfortunately to see funding for our award-winning CTE programs completely eliminated or even diminished.”

“Without these JTED funds, students would not have the opportunities they currently have to achieve industry credentials, work for local businesses, or take dual enrollment courses to help them attain Associates or Bachelors degrees, ” Cruz concluded.

The letter claims a recent Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry poll showed that 88 percent of voters statewide support the restoration of cuts made to CTE programs last session and that support for CTE programs is widespread and bipartisan.

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