Yesterday afternoon, four Assembly committees convened for an informational hearing on Career and Technical Education (CTE). Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, led the hearing, which consisted of 16 Assemblymembers from both sides of the aisle – reflecting the Assembly’s interest in this issue. Panelists included representatives from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), California Department of Education (CDE), Department of Finance (DOF), local educational agencies, the California Workforce Development Board, and industry. Most of the discussion fell around the budget proposals for CTE, but there were also references to Mr. O’Donnell’s AB 1743 which would extend funding under the CTE Incentive Grant (CTEIG). Below are highlights from this hearing.
Amber Alexander from DOF provided an overview of the Governor’s CTE proposal to provide $212 million in funding for K-12 CTE through the community colleges Strong Workforce program; she also answered numerous questions from the Assemblymembers, many of whom had concerns over the proposal. Members raised questions about directing funds through community colleges, the governance of the regional Strong Workforce consortia, how the funds are used by the regional consortia, the formula set by the Community College Chancellor’s Office that would determine the differing amounts that each regional consortium would receive, and the lack of mandating LEAs to participate in CTE programs.
In his opening comments, Assemblymember O’Donnell expressed that we are always talking about college readiness and need to offer multiple paths for career and college success. He lauded the Governor on proposing $200 million in ongoing funds for K-12 CTE, he continued to express “significant” concerns over the Governor’s proposal to direct these funds through the community colleges, thus bypassing CDE’s existing structure and expertise, as well as the regional technical support structure established under CTEIG. Assemblymember O’Donnell liked the $12 million in ongoing funding to support Workforce Pathway Coordinators, which was proposed in the Governor’s budget, or some other system of coordination.
Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance Chair Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) stated that he was pleased to see the Governor’s proposal of $200 million in ongoing funds, also expressed concerns about the funds flowing through the community colleges, and stated that the Assembly will “push for more funds during the budget process.”
Donna Wyatt from the Career and College Transitions Division of the CDE stated that with implementation of the College and Career Readiness Indicator within the California School Dashboard, there is unprecedented demand for CTE programs. In 2018 and beyond, the Division will prioritize establishing and expanding middle school CTE programs across California.
Natasha Collins from the LAO provided an overview of high school CTE, as well as an analysis of the Governor’s proposal and the LAO’s recommendations. The handout provided by the LAO can be found here. The LAO recommends using an LCFF approach to fund high school CTE, but recommends that, should the Legislature choose to provide separate funding for CTE, such funding should be through a continuation of the CTEIG.
Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) has direct experience working with apprentices as a contractor, and explained that he had numerous apprentices right out of high school who were not ready to work for him. He stood firmly behind mandating that LEAs have CTE programs and that the Legislature should do it.
Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), Chair of the Jobs, Economic Development, and Economy Committee, expressed concerns over the Governor’s grant program proposal, stating that districts should not have to seek out funding. According to her, this could eliminate access to CTE program for students, especially in small and rural districts who may not have capacity to apply for funding.
Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) brought up the question of mandating CTE, especially in an age of LCFF. Her greatest concern is over the concept of CTE itself – stating that it can limit skills students learn – and that we should shift to a Linked Learning model, which has a stronger math and English focus. Dr. Weber advocated for incorporating something like Linked Learning or CTE into all of the courses to build stronger foundations, allowing students to adapt, shift, and change themselves for the marketplace. Dr. Weber’s examples and perception of CTE, however, appeared to be tied to CTE classes that have long since disappeared, where students “drill holes in ashtrays” and don’t learn core academic skills along with career skills.
Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) echoed Dr. Weber’s statements on Linked Learning and building solid English and math foundations. He also raised concerns about the governance structure and setting up uniform rules for the regional consortia in the context of the Governor’s proposal.
Assemblymember Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) commented that it seems like the debate is about the funding mechanism when there has not been an agreement on whether or not all students should be exposed to CTE, or if there should be multiple career pathways offered at each district or region.
Numerous CTE directors, teachers, and supporters also were invited to provide brief public testimony at the end of the three-and-a-half-hour-long hearing. The length of the hearing and the unprecedented number of Assemblymembers attending this hearing certainly showed the increasing level of legislative support for continued funding for K-12 CTE, and provided some insight into where the Legislature will land with respect to the Governor’s proposal to funnel that funding for K-12 CTE through the community colleges.
Overall, the Assemblymembers emphasized that there is more work to do within the budget process, and that there will be more conversations about CTE.
- On February 22, 2018