From the NJEA Review: A teacher’s perspective on the Securing Our Children’s Future bond referendum

October 1st, 2018

Dr. Anne Marie McNamara leads the Teacher Education Academy at the Union County Vocational-Technical School District.  She is the 2018 national Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) Region I Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Anne Marie McNamara

Read her article in the NJEA Review.

As a veteran teacher at Union County Vocational-Technical High School (UC Tech), I see the value of career and technical education every day:  It prepares students for careers and for college, and gives them real-world skills for success after high school.

Schools like UC Tech and the other specialized high schools in the Union County Vocational-Technical School District are in high demand because many students—and their parents—want more out of high school than just college readiness.

Our students get to pursue their passions, such as culinary arts, health sciences, engineering, dance, auto technology, construction trades and even teaching…

Career and technical education (CTE) helps students develop essential skills such as communication, confidence, time management, teamwork, innovative thinking and ethical behavior.  These are important abilities that all adults need for success in college and in all types of careers…

It also reinforces classroom learning in academic subjects.  I taught math to students in all types of CTE programs for two years before I took on my current position.  I found they were all more focused in their academic classes because their CTE teachers had explained how the math they were learning from me applied to their career goals.

While a technical high school is not for everyone, a CTE program can be life-changing for many students.  With employers clamoring for skilled workers, and students searching for meaningful career pathways that do not necessarily require an expensive four-year degree, investing in career and technical education expansion is critical.

New Jersey policy leaders, the state Legislature and Gov. Phil Murphy agree.

One element of the public question on the Nov. 6 general election ballot—the Securing Our Children’s’ Future Bond Act—asks for voter approval of $350 million to expand career and technical education programs at county vocational-technical schools and to address student and staff security needs in public schools throughout the state..,  

Funding to expand CTE is an economic and workforce issue, as well as an education issue.

The investment in state-of-the-art labs, shops, equipment, and classrooms will prepare young people for highly technical, well-paying careers in growing fields such as manufacturing, logistics, construction, medical technology and cybersecurity…

We’ve all known many bright kids who were disengaged in a traditional academic classroom, but blossomed when learning opportunities tapped into their strengths and career interests.  And we know that for many students, family circumstances put the cost of a four-year college degree out of reach.

This bond act will create more realistic and affordable pathways that can lead to stackable credentials, associates’ and bachelors’ degrees, and well-paying careers in growing industries that can support families here in New Jersey.

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