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Sarver shares AHS CTE strategies with Sen. Murray
EVERETT Arlington High School Career and Technical Education Director Brett Sarver was one of several teachers, students, business and labor leaders to meet with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray at the Sno-Isle Tech Skills Center March 18, to discuss increasing drop-out rates and avenues for student success in the workforce.
Sarver was joined by representatives of the Workforce Development Council and YMCA of Snohomish County, Edmonds Community College, the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, Perteet Engineering, Giddens Industries, and the Kamiak, Snohomish and Monroe high schools. He was the only high school CTE teacher in attendance.
Murray called for a focus on training students for high-skilled manufacturing jobs that would equal to the focus on teaching students math and science that followed the launching of Sputnik in the 1950s.
With that focus, we put a man on the moon by the end of the next decade, Murray said. Where we need to focus our education on now is the expertise thats getting outsourced overseas. A $40 billion Air Force tanker deal went to Airbus instead of Boeing and its our own taxpayer dollars that are going to fund it. With 60 percent of our electricians retiring within the next decade, we need to develop that workforce. We need to grow and develop technical fields, include biotech and healthcare.
Murray characterized such technical fields as the backbone of the American economy, and expressed dismay at the societal perception that high-skilled manufacturing jobs are career paths of failure for students.
When Murray opened the floor to suggestions on how to improve this situation, Sarver cited his own work with outgoing Arlington School District Superintendent Linda Byrnes as an example of how to take advantage of community resources.
Linda asked me, three years ago, to find out what was going on in the businesses in town, Sarver said. Our deputy superintendent, Warren Hopkins, said that we needed to find out where the jobs were and what they needed.
From there, Sarver recounted how the school district began assembling manufacturing and engineering technology and hiring several new teachers, as well as forming partnerships with local businesses and community service organizations such as Rotary, who have donated their time, money and equipment.
Sarver estimated that AHS CTE has received more than $150,000 in donations from groups such as Absolute Manufacturing, Ellison Technologies, Aeronautical Testing Services, HCI Steel, the Newell Corporation, ABW Technologies, Checkmate Industries, the Vine Street Group, Smokey Point Distribution, Janicki Industries, Northwest Tech Inc., AWC Incorporated and the Workforce Development Council of Snohomish County. Among those donations have been $12,400 for 24 Mastercam computer-aided design program licenses, and a CNC mill worth $15,000.
We were bought a MIG welder and given plastic and aluminum scrap to work on for our CNC machine training, Sarver said. Janicki, one of the largest manufacturing firms in the Pacific Northwest, has given students and faculty field trips of their Skagit facility. Im amazed by how much everyone has stepped up to the plate for our kids. Its been so humbling, because almost every day has brought a new surprise.
Sarver added that CTE also offers alternate means of teaching challenging subjects in a more accessible, hands-on fashion.
You can hide the fact that youre teaching them math by telling them its accounting, Sarver said. When you train them on computer-aided design, dont tell them its 3-D trigonometry. Its all there, but its just called different things.
We need to break down the barriers and cultural issues that prevent students from valuing and taking advantage of these pathways, Murray said. I dont want to read more headlines about more of these jobs going overseas. I want them to stay right here.