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Career tech education gets big support after more declines in enrollment

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on Aug. 18, 2009

Dan Walters opined today that vocational skills could get a big and needed boost from SB 381, a bill that will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations committee tomorrow.   The bill simply asks that any high school requiring those courses approved by the UC and required for admissions to both UC and CSU campuses for graduation also provides career tech options for its students.

SB 381 protects curricular pathways for all students by saying 'no' to districts who wish to force a one-track "A-G" system on all students without providing career-preparatory coursework, too.

Take a look at this video of soundbytes from technical education students (and a teacher or two) who were recognized yesterday in the legislature.  These students show the passion and success these courses produce, as well as the impediments to real-world technical education opportunities.  Every Legislator should watch this.

Notwithstanding the students in the video above, California's recently released enrollment data shows the 22nd straight annual decline in CTE enrollments.  These declines are a result of the continued slashing of CTE programs, despite dropout rates that grow above 30 percent statewide.   Policy and political writer Thomas Elias said it best in a column last week,"make no mistake, what's happening is a tragedy of epic proportions. Its human consequences dwarf those of the budget and water crises, serious as they are."

While Walters was spot-on in the need for the bill and CTE alternatives, he did get two important pieces wrong.  First, he said that Los Angeles Unified would have to provide CTE options and second, that "A-G school districts" would have to provide dual tracks.  LAUSD does provide for a CTE opt-out of their A-G mandate, but the bill would not apply to LAUSD since they adopted their policy prior to June 30, 2009.  Also, SB 381 would require all future districts that mandate students take college-prep coursework must also include at least 3 CTE courses in such a graduation requirement to maintain curricular balance.  This will remind districts of their legal obligation to prepare kids for the world of work before they adopt a college-only graduation mandate.

Pay attention to the Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing (and their words) tomorrow at 9:00 a.m..  Sen. Rod Wright miraculously got SB 381 through the last two committees.  High wage and technical employers, students, parents, and the 400-member Get REAL (Relevance in Education and Learning) coalition are hoping for a third miracle tomorrow.

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Sen. Rod Wright scores one for equal respect for all students' dreams

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on May 26, 2009

Last Thursday, the California State Senate voted in support of Sen. Wright's SB 381 on an overwhelming and bipartisan vote of 32-2  (2 no's: Simitian and Wiggins -- 5 abstains: Alquist, Cedillo, Oropeza, Romero, Wolk).  Over the weekend, the most emailed article out of the New York Times was a piece, written by Matthew Crawford, on how we have devalued working with our hands. The two items together represent a growing shift back to education reality and the fulfillment of all our students' dreams. 

Crawford summed up how, over time, our country has begun to view our children's success:
"A gifted young person who chooses to become a mechanic rather than to accumulate academic credentials is viewed as eccentric, if not self-destructive. There is a pervasive anxiety among parents that there is only one track to success for their children."

The fact that SB 381 passed so overwhelmingly shows that we might be reaching the tipping point for a more balanced educational system that provides more than the traditional access to a resume of academic credentials, but options for technical skills and careers.

SB 381 calls for curricular balance in school districts that adopt the UC/CSU course admission requirements (known as "a-g") as a high school graduation requirement, by also requiring those districts adopt alternative graduation coursework that includes the core academics currently mandated by the state, along with a series of at least three career technical education classes.

We must not forget also, that this bill is a simple and clear reminder to districts of their legal obligation to maintain curricular equity and balance, as outlined in Education Code Sections 51224 and 51228:
51224. The governing board of any school district maintaining a high school shall prescribe courses of study designed to provide the skills and knowledge required for adult life for pupils attending the schools within its school district. The governing board shall prescribe separate courses of study, including, but not limited to, a course of study designed to prepare prospective pupils for admission to state colleges and universities and a course of study for career technical training.
More 51228

California's manufacturers offer high paying but very technical careers to our workforce.  These jobs play an important role in our society and pay, on average, $20,000 more than service sector wages for our hard working families.  At the very least, students should have the choice of exposure to these skills and this particular pathway.   SB 381 takes a big step toward equality for all students' dreams and, after weeks of internal legislative squabbling, garnered almost unanimous support.  SB 381 now moves to the Assembly. Stay tuned.

Here's some video from the floor debate that's worth your time:

SB 381 Author, Sen. Rod Wright's, closing speech (4:41)

Sen. Mark Wyland on SB 381 (6:31)

Sen. Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg on SB 381 (4:46)

Sen. Bob Dutton, on SB 381 (1:08)

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Career technical education gets a boost from Senators Rod Wright and Mark Wyland

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on May 6, 2009

The following video is from an April 22nd Senate Education Hearing on Senator Rod Wright's SB 381 - a bill that mandates alternative CTE pathways for any high school requiring A-G coursework for graduation.  ("A-G" is the standard term for all approved classes for entrance into the University of California system) 

SB 381:
  • values student access to both "college-prep" and CTE curriculum in high school;
  • preserves student access to balanced and rigorous curriculum to prepare them for success in the 21st century economy;
  • upholds the law that districts provide balanced curriculum for both college admissions and career entry; and,
  • stops efforts underway to track ALL students by narrowing district curriculum offerings.

The bill passed out of committee with only Chairwoman Gloria Romero voting against it.  The testimony and questioning is worth your time.  Here's the alert document that Sen. Wright will distribute during the future Senate floor debate either on May 11th or 14th.

View Sen. Rod Wright on SB 381 and importance of providing Career Technical Education options when A-G is required

View Sen. Mark Wyland on SB 381 and importance of providing Career Technical Education options when A-G is required

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