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K-12 Education Town Hall at Catalina High

Multiple public school districts came together at Catalina High on last Wednesday, October 21, 2015, to discuss state funding for the JTED and CTE programs in southern Arizona. Members of the state legislature, headlined by Senator Steve Farley, held an open forum with the audience to answer any questions regarding a new state budget proposal for public schools which will cut funding for programs such as JTED and CTE.

Full recording of event

Members of the audience cheered loudly after remarks of the speakers were against the funding cuts and in support of continued funding for the school programs. Many members of the audience wore shirts adorned with phrases such as, "I Am CTE," and "I Vote 4 Education." Chants of "C-T-E," rang out in the auditorium more than once.

"It is gratifying to see this kind of turn out," Senator Farley marveled when he welcomed the audience. "This is really important to our state, but it's also really important to me personally and I suspect to you too."

The audience was a mix of parents, students, administrators, teachers, and board members interested in the state legislature developing a new plan that keeps funding for JTED and CTE.

"The importance of me being here is to find out where the legislature is headed in the right direction or not," explained Catalina Exceptional Education teacher Trini Tester. She stressed that there will always be a need for students trained in CTE programs in the work world. "If this is stuff that is cut right now, who is going to do it? Who is going to get the training?"

Tester has seen the success of CTE firsthand at her school, which showcases an exceptional Construction Technology program headed by John Draper. Draper lamented what his and other CTE instructors' situation will be if the proposal to cut the funding passes.

"Basically, we're in a position [where we will] teach the kids out of a book, which is not why kids come to construction," Draper sighed. "They come here to learn how to do things with their hands. The legislature needs to understand by doing what they're doing, they're destroying the opportunities for these kids."

Draper went on to discuss that the town hall meeting at Catalina was a great opportunity to inform the public about the cuts, as well as letting the legislature know how they feel about the cuts. Tucson Unified Superintendent H.T. Sánchez best summed up Draper's position and what was at stake in during his speech.

"If we continue along this trajectory as it goes with educational funding… we won't have [JTED and CTE programs] for the students."