MCA backs career and technical education

Feb 1, 2013
by WLJ

—Ag educator testifies in favor of SB 17

Matt Biddle, agricultural educator and FFA advisor at Eldon High School, in Eldon, MO, testified last week on behalf of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) in favor of the Career and Technical Education Student Protection Act (SB 17) introduced by Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-18, who also chairs the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee. The bill, according to MCA, would strengthen career and technical education in Missouri in light of recent actions taken by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) that could stifle these programs in Missouri schools.

“It has been saddening to me as a parent and as an educator to see the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education take actions that could jeopardize the presence of career and technical education in our schools,” said Biddle, who is an MCA member. “Most recently, DESE released the Missouri School Improvement 5, which strips the minimum requirements for career and technical education. This sends a direct signal to decision makers in our schools that career and technical education is disposable. This is the wrong message.”

Biddle said SB 17 will bring muchneeded accountability and transparency to the management of career and technical education. He said there has been a substantial communications gap within DESE, which would be minimized if SB 17 is passed. SB 17 would establish the Career and Technical Education Board to oversee and coordinate career and technical education and career and technical student organizations’ activities in Missouri. The board would replace the State Advisory Committee for Vocational Education.

“Through my involvement with the Missouri Cattlemen’s and through my career, I have influenced thousands of young people in this state. I am blessed to know that I play a small part in the big picture of educating our future,” said Biddle. “Not all of the kids I’ve worked with go to college, and that’s okay. Career and technical education provides options and prepares young people to with their hands and minds in the workforce immediately following high school and prepares many for success in college.”

Munzlinger said there has historically been a desire to make youth college ready, but he said we need to also make youth career ready.

“We have perpetuated the idea that if you get a four year degree then you are set. We need people with skills right now,” said Munzlinger.

MCA Executive Vice President Mike Deering said the association commends Munzlinger for bringing forward this commonsense legislation. — WLJ