Rare Consensus for Education Reform

Legislative conflict is usually more newsworthy than comity, and battles between the Legislature and Governor are often even more juicy.

So it’s worth noting that a strong legislative consensus is emerging – bipartisan, bicameral and potentially with the Administration – to continue and enhance the state commitment to career-technical education (CTE).

CalChamber-supported AB 1743, authored by Education Committee Chairman Patrick O’Donnell (D, Long Beach), would continue a state incentive grant program to help educate and train students for the workforce. The Career Technical Education Incentive Grant Program (CTEIG) would spend $500 million annually to support school district (primarily high school) CTE programs.

The bill passed the Education Committee on a bipartisan vote; indeed, most of the bill’s co-authors are Republicans. The Governor has proposed a similar extension of this program in his 2018 budget, although at a lower cost and administered from a different part of state government.

Job growth in California has been robust since the last recession. Recently, however, that growth has slowed – not because of economic threats, but for lack of employable workers. The projected shortage of skilled workers over the next generation is more than a million college graduates with Bachelor’s degrees as well as hundreds of thousands of workers with two-year associate’s degrees and certificates.

CalChamber was moved to support AB 1743 when the author ensured that Linked Learning programs would not be disadvantaged by the CTEIG grants. Linked Learning is a strategy to improve high school completion and post-graduate preparedness, integrating rigorous academics, CTE classes, and work-based learning opportunities. With the inclusion of our amendments, CalChamber has designated AB 1743 a Job Creator.

Loren Kaye, President, California Foundation for Commerce and Education