March 22, 2017
By Stephanie West, LaborPress USA
Washington, DC – Career and technical education is crucial to maintaining a strong American economy with well-paying jobs, but it cannot succeed on a “skinny” budget that provides insufficient funding.
That was the message AFT President Randi Weingarten delivered to the Association for Career and Technical Education at its conference March 15 outside Washington, D.C.
Career and technical education centers, at high schools and community colleges, are no longer the simple automotive shops and cosmetology programs they used to be. Today, they partner with businesses to provide training and skills for careers as diverse as first responders, aerospace engineering, computer science, marine biology and culinary arts.
CTE programs provide options for students outside the traditional four-year academic college route particularly in technology and the trades. But effective CTE can be expensive. We need more funding for more of what we know works including internships, high-quality equipment and a pipeline for CTE instructors. Without those supports, for-profit colleges could swoop in with inferior programs, exorbitant tuitions and false promises of secure jobs after graduation, Weingarten warned. Support for these programs are essential even when education budgets are tight.
“Grow-your-own” programs are one way to get at the problem. The United Federation of Teachers’ 30-year-old Success Via Apprenticeship program in New York City is one: It partners with the New York City Department of Education and the City University of New York to guide CTE graduates through a five-year program of combined college classes and apprenticeships. The graduates then typically go on to teach in a New York City CTE program.
“Donald Trump said he loves voc-ed programs,” said Randi Weingarten. “We have to hold him accountable to that.”