Good report

John Mulcahy, director of professional development for West-MEC, said he and others at the joint career and technical education district are excited about the Morrison Institute report.

It is no big secret to those who teach and advise in the career and technical education field. But to have an organization such as the Morrison Institute at Arizona State University issue a report that shines a positive light on CTE could be somewhat surprising. But the report just issued by Morrison Institute titled “On the Rise: 21st Century Career and Technical Education Pathways,” gives clear evidence that CTE is one of the best career paths an individual can follow.

John Mulcahy, director of professional development for West-MEC, an overlay Joint Career and Technical Education district, said the most telling piece in the report is something CTE professionals have known for some time: CTE keeps kids in school.

“We have seen national research that strongly suggests this is the case,” Mulcahy said. “The Morrison Institute clearly provides the evidence that CTE is a causative factor. They’re more likely to come to school, stay in school and graduate, and we’re excited to see it.”

Mulcahy said the Harvard report, “Pathway to Prosperity,” started the dialogue about multiple pathways to success.

A baccalaureate is one way, but others also provide a path.

“Nothing is terminal,” Mulcahy said. “There are multiple pathways to success.”

What Harvard saw and Morrison is now seeing is that many of the pathways can provide a great living for people, Mulcahy said.

From research, Mulcahy said, when a child earns a licensure, and many with associate degrees (two-year degrees from community colleges) earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree.

“There are multiple pathways to success and we need to honor all those,” Mulcahy said.

In its research, Morrison Institute found that 39 percent of men with a postsecondary certificate earn more than those with an associate’s degree; 24 percent outearn those with a bachelor’s degree. Also, 34 percent of women with a postsecondary certificate earn more than those with an associate’s degree; 23 percent outearn those with a bachelor’s degree.

West-MEC history:

In 1990, new state legislation allowed public school districts to join together to enhance Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. Then in 2002, voters in West Valley school districts approved the creation of Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) to prepare students for the future and contribute to Arizona’s economic capacity. Today, West-MEC serves more than 21,000 students from 46 high schools across almost 4,300 square miles in the northern and western parts of the greater Phoenix Metropolitan region.

CTE programs are offered on high school campuses and at educational facilities operated by West-MEC and its community college partners. Students attend their home high school for core subjects and travel to West-MEC Central Program career campuses to receive high school elective credits and opportunities to earn college credit, internship experience, and industry certifications at an affordable cost. West-MEC satellite CTE programs are available on 46 high school campuses. They are enhanced by funding from West-MEC to ensure the latest in program equipment, teacher training, and student leadership development.

Current enrollment numbers (actual student bodies, not ADM):

* Central Program (West-MEC operated programs) students = 667

* Satellite Programs (CTE programs on member district high school campuses) = 20,963

In the Morrison Report, West-MEC's 2010-2011 state aid ADM count was 6,646.77, but that was before the JTED ninth-grade funding elimination. After the funding elimination ADM for 2012- 2013 was 4,558.179.

From Morrison report, challenge is funding cuts

“CTE courses require state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, which can be expensive. However, the Legislature permanently cut funding for freshman CTE classes provided by JTEDs (Joint Technical Education Districts), eliminating $27 million beginning with the 2011-12 school year. At the federal level, Perkins funds have remained flat in nominal dollars over the past 10 years, meaning that federal funding has actually decreased when inflation is taken into account.

“These cuts have left JTEDs scrambling for funds to keep equipment and facilities up to date. They have further strained schools’ finances and prevented the development of new programs. JTEDs such as EVIT and West-MEC have partly dealt with funding cuts by seeking donations of equipment on which CTE students can hone their skills. But rural JTEDs often are without large employers nearby, so they struggle to get by with inadequate resources, furthering the long-standing divide between urban and rural districts in the state.”

The Morrison report suggests that a possible solution is to restore funding for freshman CTE.

“This report’s analysis of a cohort of students in the Mesa Public Schools and the Tucson Unified School District suggests that CTE has a positive effect on student engagement as measured by reduced absenteeism and likelihood of dropping out. While further analysis is required before extrapolating these results to other school districts, these results support those in previous studies conducted in other states and indicate that CTE is likely to improve student engagement.”

To view a copy of the 48-page Morrison Institute report, visit