Member Spotlight: CTE Teachers as Advocates

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Over 1,200 teachers in the Connecticut Technical High School (CTHSS) system every year provide a technical education to thousands of students who may not want to pursue a college degree. These members of our AFT Connecticut-affiliated State Vocational Federation of Teachers offer students in grades 8 through 12 with skills that are valuable to attaining good, middle-class jobs. 
 
The skills our members provide are particularly valuable in a state like Connecticut, which is home to a number of defense industry companies.
 
Click here for press coverage of the technical high school system's recent transformation.
 
But in his state budget released earlier this month, Governor Malloy proposed cuts to the system and to moving it as a line item under the State Department of Education (SDE). Both risk undermining current resources and restricting future decision-making by the system's independent board and superintendent.
 
The governor additionally proposed a new method of allocating funds to agencies in so-called "block grants." Such an approach threatens to stifle input from the public and dilute the authority of the General Assembly when it comes to how state-funded services are paid for.
 
Click here for press coverage of the governor's block grant budgeting proposal.
 
Several union members in mid-February turned-out for a public hearing on the impact of the governor's budget in front of the legislature's Appropriations Committee. They made clear that the governor's funding cuts and block grant proposals would harm the students they educate.
 
"These cuts should not be viewed as savings," said Paul Angelucci (pictured above), who works in the Plumbing and Heating Department at Wilcox Technical High School in Meriden. "They are classes of students without teachers, they are supply shortages, they are buildings without maintainers. I want my students today to have the same opportunity for success I had when I graduated 35 years ago," added Angelucci, who serves on the local union's labor management committee.
 
A 1982 graduate of the state's technical high schools, Angelucci has been teaching for nine years after a long career as a plumber.  After applying the skills of his trade to build a successful middle class life, Angelucci felt the urge to give back to the schools that had given so much to him.
 
IB ImageAlso testifying was Francesca Ford (pictured right), an English teacher at Emmett O'Brien Technical High School in Ansonia with ten years of service in the technical high school system. Ford shared how her school is currently undergoing needed renovations, including a new technical education facility. She also noted an increased support for students in their academic curriculum, resulting in more students who are both career and college-ready when they graduate.
 
"To shift the responsibility for line-item decisions from the elected legislature to appointed managers does not increase accountability, it diffuses it," Ford told state lawmakers. "This change for the technical high system to block grant funding is not only unwise, it is undemocratic," added Ford, who also serves as the local union's treasurer.
 
It is fitting that union members would demonstrate their strong commitment to their mission and their students during national Career and Technical Education (CTE) month. The annual recognition is promoted by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) in order to highlight the achievements and accomplishments of CTE educators and graduates across the country.
 
Click here to learn more about CTE month from ACTE.