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Officials focus on CVHS' career tech
State Senator Jeff Denham hosted a summit at Central Valley High School Tuesday, Sept. 25 about the future of career technical education programs in the Central Valley. The senator spoke to a crowd of local high school students, county education administrators and teachers.

"This is a great opportunity for educators, parents and school administrators to talk face to face about educational issues impacting the Central Valley," Denham said.

Both California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell and Senator Denham spoke about legislative updates and public instruction.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) is a planned program of courses and learning experiences that start with the exploration of different career options that support academic life skills, enables achievement of high academic standards and prepares students for industry-defined work.

"CTE would allow students the opportunity to further their career with a vocational or college-bound option," Denham said.

Denham said that regardless if the U.S. was undergoing the best or worst of times or was traveling through peaks or valleys, education should not be questioned year in and out.

"It is a political fight in my life to see that education does not get cut," he said.

"It is critical in Sacramento and I know it is a top priority of Governor Schwarzenegger, to do a great job in creating a pathway, which is why CTE must be an integral part of the education system," O'Connell said. "In providing high quality educational pathways to become productive members in society, it is equally important not to limit education after high school."

O'Connell reported that students taking CTE classes received significantly higher attendance rates, had lower drop-out rates and had higher passing rates.

The greatest threat to education is the achievement gap in the state of California, according to Denham.

"Businesses need to have people with skills not necessarily linked to two-year or four-year degrees," Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance CEO, Bill Bassitt said. "The inclusion of CTE into curriculum gives you that option."

Central Valley High School Agriculture Department Chair Ken Moncrief agreed.

"The biggest challenge that students face is not having the opportunity to choose to take an elective CTE class."

Summit panel members included Ceres Unified School District Superintendent, Walt Hanline, Stanislaus County Superintendent, Tom Changnon, Central Valley High School Agriculture Department Chair, Ken Moncrief and Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance CEO, Bill Bassitt.