A California Chamber of Commerce-supported bill that establishes a new career technical education (CTE) matching-grant program will be heard in the Senate Education Committee today.
SB 148 (McGuire; D-Healdsburg/Leyva; D-Chino) builds on the work being done by the Career Pathways Trust grant program. The bill appropriates $600 million of Proposition 98 funds to establish a new career technical education grant program for districts that operate state-approved CTE course sequences aligned with regional business needs, and states the Legislature’s intent to provide additional funding for the program in 2017–18 and 2018–19.
This additional funding will ensure that school districts, joint powers authorities, and regional occupational centers have adequate resources to maintain and develop CTE programs that align with those offered by nearby community colleges, teach the skills needed by local employers, offer counseling and guidance services to help students graduate from high school and map out a clear path to a career, and build partnerships with local employers to give students valuable work experience and real-world learning opportunities through internships, externships, job-shadowing, and mentorship programs.
Local Control Funding Formula
Since 2008, and especially since the adoption of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), many school districts have started to re-prioritize how they allocate their financial resources. In some cases, this has meant a loss of support for CTE courses and programs to the extent permitted under their maintenance-of-effort requirements.
Those requirements end this year though, freeing school districts to divert even more funds away from this important work. While the CalChamber is strongly supportive of the LCFF and the goal of improving educational outcomes by putting key educational and budget decisions in the hands of educators, it is also evident that, when choices must be made about which competing investments should receive a school district’s finite resources, CTE too often falls to the bottom of the list.
In time, this may be corrected for through the implementation of a strong accountability system that properly values the role of CTE in increasing educational attainment and preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s workforce, but that accountability system is still being developed, and will not change things overnight once it is completed.
In the meantime, important programs that took millions of dollars to develop may be scaled back or eliminated, and too few programs will be created or expanded to meet the growing needs of the workforce and prepare students for those jobs that offer high wages and robust benefits.
Resources for CTE Program
SB 148 establishes an additional funding source to help maintain existing investments in CTE, and encourage school districts to continue using some of their resources for CTE program development by doubling their up-front investment. Ideally, this additional funding stream will be available through 2018–19, giving policymakers time to continue to fine-tune Local Control and Accountability Plan requirements and oversight, adopt rubrics that evaluate school districts on their ability to prepare students for some level of postsecondary training or degree program, and develop a new Academic Performance Index based on multiple measures of student success. This will also give the California Collaborative for Education Excellence time to start working with school districts to support appropriate goal-setting and improved student outcomes, which should include career and college readiness.