This morning, I had the opportunity to testify in support of Senator Yee’s SB1502, a bill to streamline the certification process for industry professionals who want to teach CTE courses. Kudos to Senator Yee, for her efforts to increase CTE opportunities for students.
For the Arizona Chamber, this bill is about simple math. Our statewide high school graduation rate is 75 percent. That’s about 6 points below the national average. Statewide, CTE programs enjoy graduation rates upwards of 95 percent. Simply put: the more students we have in these programs, the more our graduation rate will move in the right direction.
But to get more students into these programs, we need more teachers. And we need more teachers with private-sector experience.
When a person with industry-relevant experience makes the decision to teach, the state’s job should simply be to ensure they pass a background check, verify their experience and thank them for offering to serve Arizona students.
Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at the Association for Career and Technical Education’s midwinter conference. There, I heard firsthand about the dizzying maze of regulation industry professionals are asked to go through to share their knowledge with Arizona’s students. Certainly, there are additional skills that private-sector professionals need to perfect to be successful in a classroom. Things like classroom management, pedagogy, and end of course assessments aren’t things we see every day in industry. But the current certification process doesn’t guarantee mastery of these skills, and whether or not a person exhibits these is a judgment best left to school leaders and principals. The stakes are simply too high to discourage any professional from becoming a CTE instructor.
The Arizona Chamber is proud to support Senator Yee’s efforts to streamline this process, and encourage participation in these programs. Our students, our future workforce, and our economy require us to be ever vigilant in expanding access to programs that we know work.