Monday, February 3, 2014

Battling for Vocational Ed Bucks

Posted By on Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 3:00 PM

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A bill set to be heard by the House Education Committee today aims to return funding to Arizona’s Joint Technical Education Districts, which lost $30 million statewide in 2011, preventing freshmen from attending JTED classes.

District 9 Rep. Ethan Orr tells The Range he's sponsoring House Bill 2176 because JTEDs have had helped students develop solid job skills and finish school. JTED students, who can take courses that train them to be nurses, computer programmers, graphic designers, auto mechanics, plumbers and other trades, have a 90 percent graduation rate.

“I think technical and project-based education for some students is exactly what they need,” Orr said. “I’m a big believer in JTEDs.”

Tina Norton, JTED’s chief operating officer and assistant superintendent, echoed Orr’s sentiment, adding that it’s important to enroll students early in their high school careers, when students are more likely to drop out.

“Having that influence on them earlier to catch them is important because if we don’t have them into their sophomore year, many kids may have already dropped out, so we’ve lost the ability to impact those kids,” Norton said.

Orr added that he doesn’t know of any lawmakers who outwardly oppose the bill.

“No one’s going to actively oppose it, but I think what happens is does it become a high enough priority that it gets done,” Orr said. “No one’s ever said, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ But what you have is a lot of late inertia in the budget process that things just don’t get done.”

Orr couldn’t speculate as to whether Gov. Jan Brewer supported the bill, but did note that the JTED funding was not included in her budget.

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