The question we should be asking is “How do we best prepare students for life after high school graduation? Last year I was fortunate to be invited to present some of my current educational research at a symposium hosted by Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. In 2015, I lectured at Oxford and was reminded of how similar our educational challenges are both internationally and domestically. At this conference, I was co-presenting with my colleague, Dr. James Gentilucci. Our research on “Successful Recruitment Strategies for Teachers” was commissioned by the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association. We addressed an audience from America, Europe, Asia and Africa on the importance of thoughtful recruitment and retention of educational employees. London is facing a similar shortage of educators as we are in California. One path the European, African, and Asian countries have already implemented is aggressive Career and Technical Education (CTE) in secondary schools that include teacher education. Just a month prior to the Cambridge symposium, I attended a local conference hosted by the California Department of Education on the importance of CTE pathways in our schools. My attendance at this conference and the 2015 Oxford symposium served to further strengthen my commitment to our county-wide efforts in securing CTE funding for local schools throughout our county. I am honored to have our local assemblyman Jordan Cunningham and state senator Bill Monning also supporting these efforts in the state legislature.
Education in the United States, and across the globe, continues to experience challenging times. We would be wise to remember that according to current data one out of three Americans (33 percent) report attaining a bachelor’s degree, and 12 percent reported and advanced degree such as a master’s, professional, or doctorate degree. Almost nine out of 10 Americans (88 percent) attained a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED). Educational attainment continues to vary by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, nativity, and disability status. While we here in America continue to navigate our way through federal and state mandates that impact our classrooms, our leaders must include CTE as a piece of the educational puzzle.
Ask a puzzle master and you will be advised that instead of taking a wild stab at the puzzle, see if you can identify a good strategy that will lead to an acceptable solution. Similar to the puzzle master’s advice, I believe that CTE is a key piece of the educational quest for student success. As we face an ever-changing world, it is important to explore avenues that present multiple paths for student success. CTE curriculum strives to pair academics and high-level workplace skills necessary for the 21st century. Students, administrators, teachers, business members, community leaders and even politicians have endorsed CTE programs. The San Luis Obispo County Office of Education (SLOCOE) and our CTE program, SLO Partners in Education (SLOPE) continues to engage in discussions and review research related to reporting on several additional career measurements. SLO Partners’ mission is to engage business partners and educators in aligning workforce needs with career and college pathways. We facilitate work experience opportunities to ensure that students have the skills and knowledge necessary for success in the workplace and businesses have the skilled workers required for a sound growing economy. We continue to work on industry certification such as our highly successful CompTIA Bootcamps.
SLO Partners is a regional consortium of business, industry, education, and community leaders committed to working together for collective impact in workforce and economic development by aligning education systems and employment programs with economic opportunities. As we continue to provide additional opportunities for our students in CTE, I encourage you to learn more about our highly successful partnership with Cuesta College, SLO Partners, our CTE programs, and these CTE opportunities benefiting our community. It is an honor to serve as your County Superintendent of Schools.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”