Career Technical Education (CTE)
California’s education system focuses on preparing students to attend higher education and much of the coursework covers the prerequisites needed to gain entrance to a college or university. Despite this objective, a majority of our students will not continue on to higher education. As a result, many high school graduates find themselves unprepared to enter a workforce that requires workers to have technical skills unrelated to those needed to enter a traditional university.
California should teach elementary and secondary students about the world of work by integrating career awareness and exploration across the school curriculum. This career technical education (CTE) would return schools to a tradition that I grew up with, and which benefited thousands of students who did not have an interest in higher education. Many of those students benefited from the vocational education program they were exposed to and it likely helped them graduate.
CTE programs for K-12 schools are widely present in other states and in many of the industrialized nations that compete against California for jobs and economic activity. Some California high schools have successfully integrated CTE courses into the curriculum and produce graduates who leave school prepared with many of the technical skills being asked for by businesses. These programs need to be copied and expanded. By moving from a college bound curriculum to one that allows multiple opportunities for students to pursue courses that interest and excite them, we can improve the quality of a student’s education while meeting the needs of our future workforce.
Unfortunately, public high schools across California have reduced, and in many cases eliminated, CTE programs. Restoring these classes in our high schools will provide students with employable skills and allow all students to excel after high school.
Below is CTE related legislation that I have introduced to promote career technical education in schools:
AB 1412 (2001-02) - Requires the State Board of Education to adopt standards for CTE courses by Jan 1, 2005.
AB 917 (2003-04) - Establishes the CTE Vision Council to make recommendations regarding CTE education and develop a workforce preparation and strategic plan.
AB 2421 (2005-06) - Eliminates the requirement that CTE teachers must possess a bachelor’s degree to receive an emergency teaching permit for vocational education.
SB 13 (2007-08) - Requires the State Department of Education to include in applications for new construction plans certain questions relating to CTE facilities and how the district will meet the CTE needs of their students.