October 4, 2012
Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Leads 'Strong
Schools for a Strong Economy' Tour
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson launched a month-long statewide tour today highlighting innovative career technical programs that help prepare students for jobs in the 21st-century economy.
Partnering with California School Boards Association (CSBA) President Jill Wynns along with teachers, parents, administrators, and school employees, Torlakson said the "Strong Schools for a Strong Economy" effort would underscore the link between California’s education system and the future of its economy.
"Despite cuts of more than $20 billion over the last few years, schools across California are doing more than ever to connect students to careers and the modern world of work," Torlakson said. "The Linked Learning approach and programs like it keep our students more engaged while they are in school, and brighten their prospects for college and a career once they graduate. Schools have made preserving these programs a priority, but I’m deeply concerned that further cuts could see them placed on the chopping block."
"We believe that students should not only be college ready at graduation but also workforce ready," said CSBA President Jill Wynns. "School boards, administrators, teachers, and parents have done a remarkable job of keeping the schoolhouse doors open. However, the progress made to date in academic performance and the attainment of workforce skills will be lost without the state, once again, prioritizing public schools," Wynns added.
"California’s educators see every day why investing in programs that prepare our students for the 21st-century workforce is vital to the future of our state," said Dean E. Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association. "Our classrooms are already feeling the impacts of unprecedented cuts at a time when the state already ranks 47th in per-pupil spending. Billions more in cuts are possible unless voters in November provide our students with the new state revenues they all deserve."
Funding for career technical education programs in California has been cut by $140.3 million in recent years, and much of what remains has been placed in categorical flexibility—meaning schools can use those funds for other programs. This year’s state budget also eliminated $514,000 in funding for Career Technical Student Organizations. And schools face the prospect of $5.4 billion in additional "trigger" cuts depending on the outcome of the fall initiatives.
Torlakson began the tour today with a visit to Colton High School in Colton, where he was joined by Wynns, Colton Joint Unified School District Superintendent Jerry Almendarez, and Colton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laura Morales, who also serves on the school district’s Board of Education. The group visited classes in computer literacy and in consumer and family sciences before meeting with parents, teachers, and community leaders at the school.
The effort will continue on October 18 at Andrew P. Hill High School in San Jose, where Torlakson and Wynns will visit classes taking part in the school’s programs emphasizing medicine, healthcare, and technology. Also on this day, the California Department of Education will host a Webinar for districts interested in participating in a new state Linked Learning pilot program. Districts are encouraged to apply by November 30.
On October 19, Torlakson will visit Peter Johansen High School in Modesto. The school’s career technology programs include an emphasis on home economics.
On October 30, Torlakson and Wynns will join Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy at Cleveland High School in Reseda, visiting the school’s Academy of Arts and Technology and meeting with teachers, parents, and school employees.
And on November 1, Torlakson and Wynns will visit San Diego’s Patrick Henry High School, touring the school’s Engineering Academy, Healthcare Pathway, and Teaching and Human Services Academy before meeting with parents and faculty at the school.
Throughout the month, Torlakson and Wynns also will be meeting with media representatives to discuss the tour and their perspectives on how initiatives on the November ballot can help California address the need to prevent further budget cuts to education.
Torlakson, who declared a financial emergency in California’s schools when he took office in 2011, said the effort is meant to emphasize the need to prevent further cuts to school budgets.
"Our schools have more than met the challenge of doing more with less. But in this rapidly changing world, we need to do even more—retooling how we teach and what we teach—so that all students graduate with the real-world skills they need for college and a career," Torlakson said.
"California’s schools are already engaged in this work, remodeling our education system, keeping the best of what we have while replacing what’s out of date. But our schools cannot do this alone," he said. "That’s why we want every Californian to see the incredible work that’s going on—and invite them to be partners in our success."