A day dedicated to Career Technical Education (CTE) was held in the state Capitol last Wednesday. Several recipients of the Oregon Department of Education’s Career Technical Education (CTE) Revitalization Grant Program funds participated and demonstrated to legislators, lobbyists, and the public how the dedicated funds have furthered their learning.
The grant program exhibits included:
• Lane County Construction Engineering Technology Program
• Digital Design and Fabrication: Collaborative FabLab Training Facility with a Mobile STEM FabLab (Sherwood)
• Columbia Basin Homebuilders Program (Hermiston)
• Industry Partners + 21st Century Facilities = Student Success (Sutherlin)
• Steps to Oregon and America Revitalization: Public Safety and Restaurant Management (Salem)
As the displays were presented, legislators and the public were delighted to have the opportunity to view the building progress on a home, witness and participate in an interactive welding simulation, receive blood pressure screenings from EMT students, and even take a digital scan of their heads to make a miniature bust via a 3D printer!
Throughout all of the excitement, both the House and the Senate held informational hearings related to increased CTE/Pathways to Careers investment. A broad group of industry members including: the Associated General Contractors; the Academy for Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE Academy); the Portland Community College Future Connect Program; and the CTE Revitalization Grant Committee testified to the personal, community, and economic benefits of increased funding for both CTE and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs.
During the House Higher Education, Innovation and Workforce Development Committee, ACE Academy Director Mark Clifford highlighted that because ACE is a charter school, he is able to hire teachers who are actually professionals in their fields—an architect teaches the architecture course and a construction worker teaches the construction class.
Because of their breadth and depth of experience, these teachers are able to give the students a professional experience with credibility in and connections to their respective fields. Clifford also noted that “we had two students enter the trades at the end of last year; this year we have fifteen students entering the trades because of the professional connections they were able to make both in the trades and the private sector.”
Later in the afternoon during the Senate Workforce Committee, AGC Public and Strategic Affairs Director John Rakowitz noted that “an investment in CTE/Pathways to Careers is a win-win-win—Oregon students win, communities win, and industry wins.” Because of this, “it is possible that this legislative session can and hopefully will be a defining moment in restoring career technical education opportunities to students and communities across Oregon.”
Overall, the CTE Day demonstrated the amount of broad based support CTE, STEM, and Pathways to Careers have within the Capitol Building, multiple industries, and communities across the state. The CTE related bills that were heard in the various committee meetings, including House Bill 2623, House Bill 2624, and Senate Bill 112, will have work sessions at a later date. The House bills will subsequently be referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.