School Board Candidates Debate Career Technical Education

Last night the four candidates running for the Davis Joint Unified School Board engaged in a candidates forum for Career Technical Education (CTE). It was sponsored by the Davis High School FFA (Future Farmers of America), which is a program that is under the auspices of the CTE program.

Not only were members of the community informed about the goals and positions of the school board candidates, but it was an opportunity for the school board candidates to become educated about various facets of Career Technical Education.

Richard Harris, as school board candidate, pointed out near the end of the night’s forum the good news that a strong message was sent out to the community. There will be two new people elected this year to the board of education along with a new superintendent and those new people are committed to strengthening the CTE program. The gauntlet was thrown down and regardless of who will be elected, there will be a focus on CTE.

There is a real belief by some in the educational community that CTE programs and the improvement of them can help alleviate some of our most pressing concerns–reduce drop out rates, improve attendance, and increase student involvement with school. These courses in fact can provide opportunities for all kids, especially those in danger of falling through the cracks in the Davis school system which often focuses only on those kids who are following the college prep track, and ignores those kids who are not.

As candidate Bob Schelen pointed out, he viewed CTE courses not as track B to the A track of college prep, but rather wanted to integrate the two together in such a way as to eliminate any stigma that CTE has. No longer should CTE be viewed as being for those kids who could not handle college prep. Instead he wants to see full parity for CTE. And he views these as the jobs of the future.

This viewpoint gibes with some of the statistics made available last night. 75% of skilled labor jobs require a high level of technical literacy and training, while only 25% require a bachelors degree or higher. In fact according to the Federal Bureau of Labor just 22% of California jobs require a bachelor’s degree, while at the same time the supply of four-year college graduates exceeds the labor market’s demand by over 45%.

The answer here is clearly not to eliminate college prep or to discourage students from getting bachelor’s degrees. They key as a number of the candidates recognized is to incorporate some of the CTE into the college prep curriculum so that students can learn life skills while they are learning academic skills. Many of the jobs of the future will require a hybrid of skills–not simply academics or simply life skills.

While each of the candidates agreed on the importance of CTE, the focus of that concern and the concerns about funding varied from candidate to candidate.

One of the general themes that emerged was the idea that CTE has the potential to make learning and education more relevant for many students who might otherwise fall through the cracks.

Richard Harris argued that CTE could put meaning back into education and be able to reach the students and kids who deal with hands-on learning. We have to recognize that not everybody goes to college and we should not simply push them through for the sake of doing so.

For Joe Spector CTE is a pathway by which all students can succeed. He would like to see career concepts taught in every class, not just CTE classes. He favors expansion of magnet programs in town for particular emphasis at the various sites in order to make education more relevant. In particular he supports the technical and career focus that the Valley Oak proposed charter school provides.

Susan Lovenberg cited the statistics that only 22 percent of California jobs require a bachelor’s degree and many will follow the college career path only to go back to school for career employment. CTE classes can benefit all students regardless of their career and academic path by helping to define career goals and set paths that will lead to those goals. CTE classes can create a special connection to the school that students may not find in other ways.

Finally Bob Schelen, as mentioned earlier, looks to eliminate the two-track approach and fully integrate CTE into the classroom in recognition of the fact that the work force and jobs are changing. CTE can help make school more relevant to many of the students. There also needs to be a means by which the stigma of CTE courses in Davis is eliminated. He, like his fellow candidates, views CTE as a means by which to bring students that are sometimes forgotten into the process and allow them to be participants in higher education.

However Susan Lovenburg would later sound some caution about this integrative approach, suggesting a caution about CTE courses for college bound students. She felt there needs to be courses targeted toward college needs but also toward those who do not have college needs. There needs to be some separation still in the two tracks to be able to properly focus courses toward those students not going to college.

Richard Harris feared that college admissions processes would focus on the academic aspect of the courses to the detriment of those who might not end up on the college prep track. He felt it was important that colleges not dictate how courses that are CTE should be taught. At the same time, he noted that in the A-G requirements there are many fine arts course but only a handful of industrial relations courses.

Bob Schelen on the other hand wants to see CTE courses working in relation with courses that prepare students for college. That does not mean that CTE kids need to take college prep courses, but rather he would like to see all students free to take the classes that they are interested in.

Joe Spector views the CTE process itself as underlying preparation for college by providing a base for students to decide what they want to study, as well as give them the ability to explore a range of interests for what future types of work they may partake in.

The big challenge that all the candidates seem to clearly recognize is how best to fund the CTE courses. There were numerous examples of funding that may be available from the state in the form of various grant programs. However, several of the candidates had other suggestions that might prove helpful.

Susan Lovenburg wanted to see CTE strengthened at the high school and to ensure that this is not something that is ignored as it has been in the more distant past. At the same time, she sounded the warning that given declining enrollment and less money there would be no new money for these programs–at least not from within the system. Instead we need to look toward outside sources. Therefore we need to monitor closely what legislation might provide money and have a plan in place to take advantage of that money the second it might appear.

Richard Harris recommended a local business summit where the district sought out the local business community to develop a relationship with the schools to talk about CTE and develop the type of programs that would benefit not only the students but also many of the local businesses.

Bob Schelen agreed with this approach, and also was looking for ways to be much more agressive in getting state money for these programs than we have had in the past. He wants this to be an absolute priority and CTE has been a centerpiece of his campaign.

Joe Spector focused on a three point plan. First, he wants to give people a voice who do not have a voice at this point and the CTE people often fall into that category. He sees the Valley Oak charter program as an example of how this can occur. Second, he would like see a pilot mentorship program at DJUSD where at-risk students will be assigned with a teacher and/or staff members who will get to know the student and give them opportunities to explore career options and offer guidance. Finally, he wants to develop magnet schools that will utilize these sorts of programs to really offer students who are non-traditional a way to have their interests met.

Along these lines, he sees internships as a great way to build relationships with industries in town that will help work with students to invest in their learning. Susan Lovenburg liked this approach as well as the local business model but was a bit concerned about how much it would cost. Richard Harris suggested that much of the cost would be borne on the business community.

In all, it seemed a productive discussion and there seemed a general commitment on the part of all of the candidates to renew a focus on career technical education. It was heartening to see many students and industry professionals in the room on a Monday night to watch and engage in a discussion of a topic that is often ignored in the college prep-centered atmosphere of Davis.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Elections

60 comments

  1. Burt said…

    The Vanguard should consider an apology to its readers this morning.

    Yes, this morning I viewed the story about the Muslim high school group celebrating Ramadan yesterday at the high school and yes I viewed the first picture with the young man in the middle flipping the bird. (IT HAS SINCE BEEN REMOVED).

    I am not sure who to be more disappointed in, the Vanguard for rushing to publish a story that they had obviously not reviewed, or the young man in the picture who has certainly lowered my opinion of that group.

    Very Disappointed

  2. Burt said…

    The Vanguard should consider an apology to its readers this morning.

    Yes, this morning I viewed the story about the Muslim high school group celebrating Ramadan yesterday at the high school and yes I viewed the first picture with the young man in the middle flipping the bird. (IT HAS SINCE BEEN REMOVED).

    I am not sure who to be more disappointed in, the Vanguard for rushing to publish a story that they had obviously not reviewed, or the young man in the picture who has certainly lowered my opinion of that group.

    Very Disappointed

  3. Burt said…

    The Vanguard should consider an apology to its readers this morning.

    Yes, this morning I viewed the story about the Muslim high school group celebrating Ramadan yesterday at the high school and yes I viewed the first picture with the young man in the middle flipping the bird. (IT HAS SINCE BEEN REMOVED).

    I am not sure who to be more disappointed in, the Vanguard for rushing to publish a story that they had obviously not reviewed, or the young man in the picture who has certainly lowered my opinion of that group.

    Very Disappointed

  4. Burt said…

    The Vanguard should consider an apology to its readers this morning.

    Yes, this morning I viewed the story about the Muslim high school group celebrating Ramadan yesterday at the high school and yes I viewed the first picture with the young man in the middle flipping the bird. (IT HAS SINCE BEEN REMOVED).

    I am not sure who to be more disappointed in, the Vanguard for rushing to publish a story that they had obviously not reviewed, or the young man in the picture who has certainly lowered my opinion of that group.

    Very Disappointed

  5. Burt: That story is due up this afternoon, it was accidentally posted on the blog for two seconds this morning before I placed it into draft mode. The Vanguard was not rushing to publish the story, instead made a technical error. My apologies.

  6. Burt: That story is due up this afternoon, it was accidentally posted on the blog for two seconds this morning before I placed it into draft mode. The Vanguard was not rushing to publish the story, instead made a technical error. My apologies.

  7. Burt: That story is due up this afternoon, it was accidentally posted on the blog for two seconds this morning before I placed it into draft mode. The Vanguard was not rushing to publish the story, instead made a technical error. My apologies.

  8. Burt: That story is due up this afternoon, it was accidentally posted on the blog for two seconds this morning before I placed it into draft mode. The Vanguard was not rushing to publish the story, instead made a technical error. My apologies.

  9. Check out the lead article in the Enterprise yesterday concerning Harris “drowning” in campaign support from interests OUTSIDE of Davis. Harris’ “green” campaign for School Board is designed to avoid taking a position on the issues that ARE important to Davis voters. I will be voting NO on Q as a placeholder-send a message vote. The school board will no doubt put it back on the ballot at the next opportunity and I want to see who the new members(and their policies) are.

  10. Check out the lead article in the Enterprise yesterday concerning Harris “drowning” in campaign support from interests OUTSIDE of Davis. Harris’ “green” campaign for School Board is designed to avoid taking a position on the issues that ARE important to Davis voters. I will be voting NO on Q as a placeholder-send a message vote. The school board will no doubt put it back on the ballot at the next opportunity and I want to see who the new members(and their policies) are.

  11. Check out the lead article in the Enterprise yesterday concerning Harris “drowning” in campaign support from interests OUTSIDE of Davis. Harris’ “green” campaign for School Board is designed to avoid taking a position on the issues that ARE important to Davis voters. I will be voting NO on Q as a placeholder-send a message vote. The school board will no doubt put it back on the ballot at the next opportunity and I want to see who the new members(and their policies) are.

  12. Check out the lead article in the Enterprise yesterday concerning Harris “drowning” in campaign support from interests OUTSIDE of Davis. Harris’ “green” campaign for School Board is designed to avoid taking a position on the issues that ARE important to Davis voters. I will be voting NO on Q as a placeholder-send a message vote. The school board will no doubt put it back on the ballot at the next opportunity and I want to see who the new members(and their policies) are.

  13. What concerns me is not so much that Harris has “outside of Davis support,” but that they are lobbyists, with their own self interests, that may not be the best for Davis.

  14. What concerns me is not so much that Harris has “outside of Davis support,” but that they are lobbyists, with their own self interests, that may not be the best for Davis.

  15. What concerns me is not so much that Harris has “outside of Davis support,” but that they are lobbyists, with their own self interests, that may not be the best for Davis.

  16. What concerns me is not so much that Harris has “outside of Davis support,” but that they are lobbyists, with their own self interests, that may not be the best for Davis.

  17. If you wish to send a message, please do it via letters to the editor, speaking at the Board meetings, email to the Board and so forth.

    Don’t express your anger at Board actions by harming our students through a rejection of one of the District’s main revenue sources.

  18. If you wish to send a message, please do it via letters to the editor, speaking at the Board meetings, email to the Board and so forth.

    Don’t express your anger at Board actions by harming our students through a rejection of one of the District’s main revenue sources.

  19. If you wish to send a message, please do it via letters to the editor, speaking at the Board meetings, email to the Board and so forth.

    Don’t express your anger at Board actions by harming our students through a rejection of one of the District’s main revenue sources.

  20. If you wish to send a message, please do it via letters to the editor, speaking at the Board meetings, email to the Board and so forth.

    Don’t express your anger at Board actions by harming our students through a rejection of one of the District’s main revenue sources.

  21. CTE is probably the one issue also every Dem and Reep in the legislature agrees upon, but like the candidates, they can’t agree on how to fund it.

  22. CTE is probably the one issue also every Dem and Reep in the legislature agrees upon, but like the candidates, they can’t agree on how to fund it.

  23. CTE is probably the one issue also every Dem and Reep in the legislature agrees upon, but like the candidates, they can’t agree on how to fund it.

  24. CTE is probably the one issue also every Dem and Reep in the legislature agrees upon, but like the candidates, they can’t agree on how to fund it.

  25. I’m glad DJUSD is FINALLY looking at CTE. It is long overdue. Many other school districts are ahead of Davis on this issue.

    I think we’ll continue to see more positive changes in the school district now that David Murphy is gone.

    He was too focused on only a small percentage of students going the direction of college right after high school. The problem with this, is that it does not take into account that students may eventually attend college, but not attend immediately after high school. Many will attend junior college, or work while attending college. Others, will go into the workforce and not attend at all.

    High schools should provide an opportunity for those students to earn a good salary and not penalize them for not attending college.

    It sounds like it was a good discussion last night. Thanks for reporting on this DPD.

  26. I’m glad DJUSD is FINALLY looking at CTE. It is long overdue. Many other school districts are ahead of Davis on this issue.

    I think we’ll continue to see more positive changes in the school district now that David Murphy is gone.

    He was too focused on only a small percentage of students going the direction of college right after high school. The problem with this, is that it does not take into account that students may eventually attend college, but not attend immediately after high school. Many will attend junior college, or work while attending college. Others, will go into the workforce and not attend at all.

    High schools should provide an opportunity for those students to earn a good salary and not penalize them for not attending college.

    It sounds like it was a good discussion last night. Thanks for reporting on this DPD.

  27. I’m glad DJUSD is FINALLY looking at CTE. It is long overdue. Many other school districts are ahead of Davis on this issue.

    I think we’ll continue to see more positive changes in the school district now that David Murphy is gone.

    He was too focused on only a small percentage of students going the direction of college right after high school. The problem with this, is that it does not take into account that students may eventually attend college, but not attend immediately after high school. Many will attend junior college, or work while attending college. Others, will go into the workforce and not attend at all.

    High schools should provide an opportunity for those students to earn a good salary and not penalize them for not attending college.

    It sounds like it was a good discussion last night. Thanks for reporting on this DPD.

  28. I’m glad DJUSD is FINALLY looking at CTE. It is long overdue. Many other school districts are ahead of Davis on this issue.

    I think we’ll continue to see more positive changes in the school district now that David Murphy is gone.

    He was too focused on only a small percentage of students going the direction of college right after high school. The problem with this, is that it does not take into account that students may eventually attend college, but not attend immediately after high school. Many will attend junior college, or work while attending college. Others, will go into the workforce and not attend at all.

    High schools should provide an opportunity for those students to earn a good salary and not penalize them for not attending college.

    It sounds like it was a good discussion last night. Thanks for reporting on this DPD.

  29. Burt said…

    Doug Paul Davis said…
    Burt: That story is due up this afternoon, it was accidentally posted on the blog for two seconds this morning before I placed it into draft mode. The Vanguard was not rushing to publish the story, instead made a technical error. My apologies.
    10/2/07 8:37 AM

    Not to rub your nose in it but….

    Which are you saying was the technical error. Posting the story, or posting the story with the offensive photograph in it.

  30. Burt said…

    Doug Paul Davis said…
    Burt: That story is due up this afternoon, it was accidentally posted on the blog for two seconds this morning before I placed it into draft mode. The Vanguard was not rushing to publish the story, instead made a technical error. My apologies.
    10/2/07 8:37 AM

    Not to rub your nose in it but….

    Which are you saying was the technical error. Posting the story, or posting the story with the offensive photograph in it.

  31. Burt said…

    Doug Paul Davis said…
    Burt: That story is due up this afternoon, it was accidentally posted on the blog for two seconds this morning before I placed it into draft mode. The Vanguard was not rushing to publish the story, instead made a technical error. My apologies.
    10/2/07 8:37 AM

    Not to rub your nose in it but….

    Which are you saying was the technical error. Posting the story, or posting the story with the offensive photograph in it.

  32. Burt said…

    Doug Paul Davis said…
    Burt: That story is due up this afternoon, it was accidentally posted on the blog for two seconds this morning before I placed it into draft mode. The Vanguard was not rushing to publish the story, instead made a technical error. My apologies.
    10/2/07 8:37 AM

    Not to rub your nose in it but….

    Which are you saying was the technical error. Posting the story, or posting the story with the offensive photograph in it.

  33. Burt – DPD already said it was an error, explained and apologized.

    Stick to the issue at hand.

    BTW – MSA is a great student group. They have done a lot of good work in the community and abroad.

    I don’t even believe the student that was in the picture was a part of MSA. It was not appropriate regardless of who he is.

    Perhaps he is one of the kids that could / would benefit from CTE.

    I hope that the new school board finds the funding for CTE. DJUSD needs it.

  34. Burt – DPD already said it was an error, explained and apologized.

    Stick to the issue at hand.

    BTW – MSA is a great student group. They have done a lot of good work in the community and abroad.

    I don’t even believe the student that was in the picture was a part of MSA. It was not appropriate regardless of who he is.

    Perhaps he is one of the kids that could / would benefit from CTE.

    I hope that the new school board finds the funding for CTE. DJUSD needs it.

  35. Burt – DPD already said it was an error, explained and apologized.

    Stick to the issue at hand.

    BTW – MSA is a great student group. They have done a lot of good work in the community and abroad.

    I don’t even believe the student that was in the picture was a part of MSA. It was not appropriate regardless of who he is.

    Perhaps he is one of the kids that could / would benefit from CTE.

    I hope that the new school board finds the funding for CTE. DJUSD needs it.

  36. Burt – DPD already said it was an error, explained and apologized.

    Stick to the issue at hand.

    BTW – MSA is a great student group. They have done a lot of good work in the community and abroad.

    I don’t even believe the student that was in the picture was a part of MSA. It was not appropriate regardless of who he is.

    Perhaps he is one of the kids that could / would benefit from CTE.

    I hope that the new school board finds the funding for CTE. DJUSD needs it.

  37. Much like two years ago, I find that we have four excellent candidates running for school board this year. And while they all have different backgrounds and levels of experience, they are not all that far apart on the issues. I have a feeling that the two winners will simply be the two whose names are most widely known in Davis.

    At last night’s forum, which was happily well attended, the four seemed to agree with each other on most aspects of CTE. I do think the most heartening aspect of this event was, as David Greenwald noted, what Richard Harris said: that whoever wins, we will be electing two people who understand the importance of CTE programs and funding. I don’t think that was always true in the past.

    What disappointed me a little is that we in the audience didn’t get the chance to ask any questions, last night. I wanted to ask them about developing certificated programs.

    My belief is that what we need to develop a practical course load in CTE, where employers help the school district determine which skill sets are needed for new employees, and then we design classes (or internships) which facilitate students to learn all of the needed skills. After every skill on the list is mastered, a certificate could be awarded, letting possible employers know what the students are bringing to the party.

    Nonetheless, the questions asked by the moderator were good, and I think they exposed the fact that the candidates care about this issue and they’ve given it some real thought.

  38. Much like two years ago, I find that we have four excellent candidates running for school board this year. And while they all have different backgrounds and levels of experience, they are not all that far apart on the issues. I have a feeling that the two winners will simply be the two whose names are most widely known in Davis.

    At last night’s forum, which was happily well attended, the four seemed to agree with each other on most aspects of CTE. I do think the most heartening aspect of this event was, as David Greenwald noted, what Richard Harris said: that whoever wins, we will be electing two people who understand the importance of CTE programs and funding. I don’t think that was always true in the past.

    What disappointed me a little is that we in the audience didn’t get the chance to ask any questions, last night. I wanted to ask them about developing certificated programs.

    My belief is that what we need to develop a practical course load in CTE, where employers help the school district determine which skill sets are needed for new employees, and then we design classes (or internships) which facilitate students to learn all of the needed skills. After every skill on the list is mastered, a certificate could be awarded, letting possible employers know what the students are bringing to the party.

    Nonetheless, the questions asked by the moderator were good, and I think they exposed the fact that the candidates care about this issue and they’ve given it some real thought.