Local technical training officials are expressing support for Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed changes in career and technical education (CTE) training announced this week. Brownback said his legislative proposals will include $20.5 million in funding for career and technical training initiatives.
Dawn Lindsley, Manhattan High CTE coordinator, termed the initiative “an exciting opportunity” that “brings more recognition for CTE statewide.”
Rob Edleston, president of Manhattan Area Technical College, represented the Kansas Association of Technical Colleges on a panel that helped put Brownback’s proposal together. He applauded the initiative, although acknowledging that questions remain about what career and technical education will look like in the future.
“Frankly, I’ve asked myself the same questions on how we go about this,” Edleston said.
Some initial details include the state Board of Education being encouraged to require all students in the eighth grade and higher to have an individual career plan of study.
Lindsley said some students already have an electronic portfolio that tracks education, interest and skills for a career of their choosing. She called it a “tremendous tool” that would be great for everyone.
“They’re not allowing school districts to make it optional anymore,” she said. “They’re saying if you want a student to be successful, this is what you have to do.”
Also, funding will not be provided for high school programs that are also available in a postsecondary institution within 30 miles of the school.
Lindsley said she’s heard some concern about not having a CTE program at the high school due to the proximity of Manhattan Area Technical College. “I don’t think that’s really the case, but I don’t think it really came across very well,” she said.
Lindsley said instead of having separate auto tech programs at MHS and MATC, there would be a pooling of resources for students to meet in one location. “It will mean changes, but I don’t think change is a bad thing,” she said.
Edleston said the idea of the 30-mile radius is to remove “the unnecessary duplication of effort.” “Sharing of resources – intellectual and technical – will be a significant thing to come out of this,” he said.
Edleston said MATC and other technical colleges would have to find ways to accommodate high school students on campus, which he is looking forward to doing. “Right now, we have zero high school students,” he said.
MATC was a part of USD 383 until it separated into its own institution in July 2004.
Schools would have incentive to make sure high schools students complete technical certification before graduation with a $1,000 payment per student in that category.
Another aspect of the plan would be to develop a state-wide articulation agreement between high schools and community and technical colleges for CTE programs.
Lindsley said some students have gained credits in the past, but that process isn’t used as frequently as it could be.
Edleston said he particularly liked this aspect of the initiative since it’s become increasingly important to have some sort of postsecondary education. “I’m hoping to see high school students get college credit for their technical courses,” he said.
The initiative comes on the heels of recent changes in the Kansas State Department of Education’s CTE funding model, which emphasizes clusters of several disciplines in a course, instead of traditional vocational courses
Lindsley and Edleston said they hoped an increased focus on CTE would make the courses more appealing and highlight the advancements made in education.
Lindsley said most people think about the old CTE courses and don’t realize that principles from the core courses – English, math and science – are used within the CTE classes.
“It’s not just teaching a basic skill for a worker to be out on the assembly line anymore,” she said. “It’s a lot more than that.”
Edleston, who is on the committee working on the initiative, said work will be done concerning details about how everything will be implemented. “The first year is probably the planning year,” he said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done.”
Edleston said he hopes for a more solid plan that could be put in place in the near future by the fall. But he acknowledged he could be getting ahead of himself. “Now the hard work really beings and making this work,” he said. “We’re committed to this.”