Career and technical educators and stakeholders joined Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback today for the announcement of his plan to boost the percentage of students who are career and college ready upon high school graduation. The plan, which proposes improvements to career and technical education (CTE) programs, is part of Brownback’s Road Map for Kansas commitments to improve education.
“Career and technical education programs are a great way for high school students in Kansas to obtain real-world knowledge and skills that will help them immediately – whether that’s to begin their career after high school or to get a job that will help pay their way through college,” Brownback said. “As business demand continues to increase, we must work to reverse the trend of the decreasing supply of CTE certified workers. We have seen the number of high school students enrolled in technical education programs drop by nearly 20,000 and the number of students earning a certificate by nearly 33 percent.”
The proposal would provide a little more than $20.5 million for:
• Student tuition.
• School transportation costs.
• Incentives to high schools for certificates earned in key occupations.
• Marketing to increase participation.
“With the help of Governor Brownback and our Kansas Legislators we can build a seamless pathway for students to learn and earn while moving from one level of education to another,” said Rob Edleston, president of the Kansas Association of Technical Colleges. “The choice of college or work will no longer be the case. The choice has become what kind of college degree I should get in order to ‘learn a living.’”
Linda Fund, the executive director of the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees said, “We applaud the governor's support of a career and technical education system, which provides workers for economy-driving jobs faster than any other educational system. Kansas community colleges provide the vast majority of the current technical education in Kansas and support putting resources into a skilled workforce to make Kansas more globally competitive. Creation of a skilled workforce that can fill the needs of our business and industry partners is critical to Kansas economic recovery.”
Kansas Education Commissioner Dr. Diane DeBacker said the plan aligned nicely with the career and technical education initiatives adopted by the State Board of Education in 2008 and emphasized in the board’s strategic planning.
“For the past several years, the Kansas State Department of Education, together with local school districts, has been working to provide career pathways that will enable all students to be both college and career ready when they leave high school,” DeBacker said. “We’re pleased to see this same focus coming from our state’s highest office.”
Andy Tompkins, the executive director of the Kansas Board of Regents, said the initiative will provide an incentive to high school students to pursue an education at Kansas community and technical colleges while they are still in high school, enabling them to get a jumpstart on being ready to enter the workforce.
“Our 26 community and technical colleges provide Kansans the ability to translate their passion into careers in avionics, healthcare, manufacturing, business, and countless other industries,” Tompkins said. “Highly skilled and trained Kansans, educated by these institutions, can help provide Kansas businesses the workforce they need to be successful in today’s global economy.”
Brownback’s proposal will now be presented to the Kansas Legislature.