Sac Bee misses the most important education cutsPosted by Gino DiCaro, Vice President, Communications on Jan. 13, 2009
piece on the California Teachers Association and their proposed tax increase, the Sacramento Bee editorial board mentioned that every aspect of education had taken a hit except teacher salaries. The Bee editorial board wrote, "While virtually everything in education has taken a hit -- academic programs, art and music, counseling, books, labs -- teacher salaries remain among the top 10 in the nation."
We take one major exception with that information and the overall article. California manufacturers have a substantial stake in our high school career technical education programs and rely upon them for critical workforce both from college and straight out of high school. These high wage employers have suffered as a result of a 40 percent decline in student access to these programs over the last 20 years (see chart below and here's a prime example showing CTE is the last priority). That the Bee did not mention one of the largest and most dramatic declines in our education system could be an oversight but it's a hard number to miss and deserves proper attention.
It deserves that attention because the state categorical spending for career technical education is about to become extinct with the flexibility being given to schools to raid these funds. The Get REAL coalition put out a release today making a hard case for securing what's left of vocational programs. These programs are absolutely essential to California's economic recovery and one can argue the lack of access to these courses has contributed to the overall problem. Our students need relevance in their high school course work to find their path to success. Without it we are left with more dropouts -- already above 30 percent -- and too many high school graduates with limited workforce skills or college inspiration.
The media, the Governor, the Legislature and CTA must understand that they have whittled these critical career programs down to the bone and, for now, we must at the very least protect existing funds or risk our economic recovery and our students' success.
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