I have contacted my legislators and asked them to oppose cutting funding for Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs that are classified as “less than moderate” because they are considered lower in pay and low in demand. There are flaws with how the value of CTE programs is determined, and these data points are not verified by industry. 

There is a definite gender bias to these cuts. Many of them affect young women more than young men. I also see them as an attack on urban students.

The language was originally in House Bill 1397 is now in the budget bill, House Bill 1001.

Our MSD Warren Township Walker Career Center fashion, cosmetology and culinary arts programs keep some young women interested in school. Our cosmetology program produces licensed beauticians and high school graduates. Many of these young women would have no desire to finish school without this program. If we have a student whose passion is hair, who are we to say that that passion is not worthwhile? The bottom line is that these programs absolutely keep students in school and off the streets. They give students life-long skills they can use to make a living. 

Cutting cosmetology does not push young ladies into a different, more lucrative career path. It pushes them to drop out of school and leads to a far more difficult life. 

De-funding “less than moderate value” is not based on the real world. Indiana is “a state that works” and these are good jobs people need. Someone has to cut hair. 

Restaurants and hotels, which are vital to Indiana’s convention and tourism industry, need employees, servers and chefs. Those two industries were severely impacted by the pandemic, and I find it ironic that relief packages specifically aimed at the restaurant industry exist at the state and federal level at the same time legislators propose cutting funding for culinary arts training programs. I’m being simultaneously begged to order take out while Indiana doesn’t want to train those who prepare and serve it.

These are the programs our kids are passionate about (and I speak as a parent who has eaten a lot of teenager made Japanese food) which give them real, usable, employable, lifelong skills.

Some statistics to note:

  • CTE programs reduce drop-out rates: 81% of high school dropouts say relevant, real-world learning opportunities like CTE would have kept them in school.
  • CTE programs help students get jobs: Six out of 10 students in high school CTE plan to pursue a career related to the CTE area they are exploring. Limiting access to CTE areas limits the opportunity for students to explore their career areas of interest.
  • CTE students are more likely to meet college and career readiness goals: 80% of high school students taking both CTE and college prep courses meet college and career readiness goals, versus 63% who are prepared through college prep courses alone.

The program that is probably the most gender-balanced – radio and TV – is the absolute gem of the Walker Career Center (FrontRunner Media). 

These are important programs that serve important purposes. Reducing programs now is being shortsighted as many of these careers will end up as high wage/high demand jobs if cuts to training programs create a shortage of workers.  

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