Support for Technology Education
Technology & Engineering Support letter
By Steve Johnston
Dec 18, 2003, 08:55
My name is _____________, and I am a Technology Educator at ____________School in ____________, Wisconsin.My purpose in writing you is to inform you of a potential unintended consequence of the federal mandate, “No Child Left Behind” and the budget impact on Career and Technical Education Programs within our State.
The federal mandate “No Child Left Behind” effectively raises the academic crossbar and holds schools accountable based on test scores in Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and English. Though I support raising standards for all children across the board in all areas, I need to inform you of the debilitating impact this mandate has on Technology Education as well as other CTE programs. The following arguments will hopefully illustrate my point:
1. As schools raise expectations for core level classes, more of an emphasis is placed on teaching students to do well on tests for fear of being labeled a “under performing school”. Schools should be more than factories that produce categorized students based on high stakes tests.
2. Students learn best by seeing and doing. As more CTE curricula is cut to make room for additional core classes, students do not have the opportunity to experience areas of the curriculum that they not only enjoy, but gain valuable knowledge and skills. We need to allow students to experience CTE curriculum. The sum of our current experiences is what we use to influence future career and life decisions. Our children deserve a well-rounded education to help them make informed choices for the future.
3. Historically speaking, once programs are cut, they do not come back. For example, if a school cuts out its Transportation (automotive or small engines) program, the resources and staffing used to support that program is also cut or reduced. If in the future the school wants to get the program running again, finding a qualified person to teach the class and allocating the financial resources to sustain the course would be a substantial challenge.
4. K-12 education is the perfect opportunity to expose students to potential careers. If students are not able to experience what it is like to replace a piston, tune up an engine etc…the domino effect is a reduction in the amount of students moving into that potential field in the future. This will cause potential shortfalls in the labor force. At a time when states are struggling to help citizens affected by economic slowdowns and budget deficits, career and technical education programs have never been more important. It is critical that students have the opportunity to acquire the education and skills that will help them find employment and live productive, successful lives. Investment in Technology and engineering skills/literacy combined with academic improvement, leadership development and entrepreneurial skills will move us in the right direction.
When No Child Left Behind was created, I am not sure that our politicians took the time to think through the potential it had to eliminate non-tested areas. In reality however, that is that is exactly what is beginning to happen. If action is not taken now, CTE curriculum runs the risk of extinction.
So what can be done? I implore you to use any available resources to help convince legislators and other decision makers to:
1. Support an increase in funding to the Carl Perkins Act. Theses monies are earmarked for CTE programs to use and are essential for us to maintain our programs. Some legislators want to cease Perkins' focus on career and technical education and instead focus on supporting academic achievement. Additionally, money allocated for the Carl Perkins Act has been gradually reduced and is in danger of being re-allocated.
2. Help convince legislators (at the State and Federal level) and other decision makers that Technology and Engineering Education and other CTE curriculum has:
a) merit and should continue to be a part of the k-12 education.
b) value and by its nature, reinforces core subject areas.
Research has shown that many students perform better and stay in school longer when they believe their course work is relevant to their future endeavors. Career and technical education provides this relevance. The Workforce 2002 Report estimates that in the future, only 20% of jobs will require a 4-year degree, while 65% will require some form of postsecondary education or training. By reducing the focus on technical education at the secondary level, many students will be unprepared to enter the technical programs offered at these 2-year institutions.
In closing, it is my hope that you will support the need for Technology and Engineering Education as well as all CTE classes. I would be happy to answer any questions you have regarding the context of this letter. Please feel free to contact me at your convenience.
© Copyright 2005 by Wisconsin Technology Education Association