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Guest opinion

JTED head: Ducey's budget cuts would gut career training

Arizona’s governor and legislators are working to pass a budget that will eviscerate the Pima County JTED’s Career and Technical Education programs, which is a contradiction of their stated goals of supporting education and attracting businesses to the state.

The proposed budget cuts $30 million from Joint Technical Education Districts (JTEDs) and the member districts they serve. The proposal will reduce the amount of per-pupil funding for students enrolled in JTED/CTE programs to a point where local school districts would lose money for students enrolled in 50 programs such as Automotive Technology, Information Technology, Engineering, Culinary Arts, Media and Graphic Communications, Nursing Services, Precision Manufacturing and more.

Economics will once again necessitate closing programs that were brought back at the urging of business owners and parents alike. If the budget passes, career opportunities will be cut off for more than 24,000 students in Pima County, San Manuel and Rio Rico, not to mention the loss of work for local employers.

The timing couldn’t be worse. The majority of our nation’s skilled workforce is reaching retirement age. By 2017, an estimated 2.5 million new, middle-skill manufacturing jobs are expected to be added to the workforce, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all job growth, according to a USA Today analysis of local data from Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. and CareerBuilder. How will Arizona attract businesses if we lack a skilled workforce? 

It’s easy to talk about numbers, but legislators also need to look at the student who ditched every day of high school until she enrolled in the Cosmetology program and loved it. She became a successful stylist and now manages a busy salon. Look at the student who wasn’t sure of what she wanted to do, and became an aircraft mechanic who was able to accept a great job offer one year after completing high school. And look at the EMT student who saved her own mother’s life because of her training.

The Harvard University study “Pathway to Prosperity,” and the recent Morrison Institute Report on Career and Technical Education show that students who complete JTED/CTE programs:

  • Provide a much needed skilled workforce
  • Have an increased high school graduation rate (by approximately 24 percent)
  • Score up to 30 points higher on standardized tests
  • Successfully enter the workforce and college and contribute more to the economy

Pima County JTED/CTE is not only one of the most effective models of education, it is also economic development.

In 2006, the business community rallied and voters approved the creation of the JTED District. Parents were promised it would serve all high school students regardless of a student’s enrollment status at a traditional public, charter, private, or home-school. Businesses were promised the District would work hand-in-hand with them to provide relevant curriculum and state of the art equipment so students would be workforce ready. During the past seven years, JTED has delivered on those promises.

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Our legislators are willing to let too much go, while there are no discussions of the $360 million rainy day fund, of suspending the remaining $883 million in corporate tax give-aways, nor the $12.6 billion in special interest tax loopholes. Instead, our legislators are contradicting themselves and the voters who created amazing opportunities for students.

Alan L. Storm is the superintendent of the Pima County Joint Technical Education District.

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1 comment on this story

Mar 5, 2015, 8:01 am
-0 +4

More proof that Il Ducey is a disaster

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Storm's letter to legislators

Pima JTED head Alan Storm sent a letter about the state budget to Southern Arizona's lawmakers on Wednesday:

Good morning Southern Arizona Legislators:

Once again I must implore you to step in and do what’s right for Arizona children. Reports are that unprecedented budget cuts to both K-12 education and JTEDs throughout the state, as well as universities and community colleges will be made in the next few days.

We are being told that the cuts will be at least $7 million to JTED satellite programs, cutting the current 1.25 ADM for CTE/JTED satellites (those programs in every high school) to 1.0, to be apportioned 0.75 to the member district and 0.25 to the JTED. That will END participation in JTEDs, since NO SCHOOL DISTRICT can absorb an additional 0.25 cut to their budgets. No students will be allowed to participate in CTE/JTED satellite programs. We are also being told that K-12 will also be cut another $23 million. So those districts that are members of a JTED will receive BOTH a cut to their M&O budgets as well as a cut to the JTED budgets.

The authorizing legislation for JTEDs is quite clear. Formation of a JTED will create an additional 0.25 funding for CTE/JTED classes because of the higher costs associated with these classes, resulting in 1.0 ADM for the member district AND 0.25 ADM for the JTED. Taxpayers were well aware that their vote to create a JTED would result in an ADDITIONAL 0.25 for their children’s participation in Career and Technical Education. Now the legislature is attempting to circumvent the people’s vote to reduce funding their school districts which will result in the death of Career & Technical Education programs. This cut has been a goal of ATRA for several years and it should not be allowed to happen!

PLEASE – read the reports. Read Harvard University’s “Pathway to Prosperity.” Read the Morrison Institute’s report on Career and Technical Education. CTE/JTED programs ARE job creation. CTE/JTED programs ARE economic development.

Please stop the decimation of K-12 education and stop the decimation of CTE/JTED programs, both satellite and central campus programs! Your vote on this issue matters to the future of every child in Arizona.

Alan L. Storm, Ph.D. Superintendent/CEO