On November 8, voters in the Cherokee Trail High School district in Aurora, Colorado, will be voting on a potential $250 million bond, much of it earmarked for new career and innovation technology initiatives throughout the district. Back in 2012, voters had approved a $125 million bond question which led to major upgrades for this school’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) fabrication laboratory, affectionately known as the “Fab Lab.” The facility is very popular with students wanting to take advantage of 3D printers, precision mills, and laser engravers. The hands-on learning is helping a lot of students realize career aspirations while still in high school. The community is seeing the positive things that have happened since the 2012 vote, and many are eager to see that continue.
Officials and residents of this school district and more, have come to realize that not every student chooses to attend a four-year college after high school, and nor is it the right choice for every student. As more funding is put back into CTE, the improvements in both facilities and curriculum are helping to remove the stigma “vocational” classes may have had in the past. The skills that are taught in CTE classes today have been majorly overhauled since the 1970s and 1980s. Kids are learning computer coding, robotics, and advanced manufacturing. And many of these classes are part of dual-credit programs with local technical colleges, counting toward both high school graduation requirements and college credit. Whether entering the workforce straight out of high school, or being prepared for their next leg of their educational journey, students are learning skills that are highly valued by employers.
Locally, we are seeing more attention being paid to CTE, as well. Voters in the Elkhorn Area High School (EAHS) district made the revamped Technical Education wing possible, with a vote for a $20,420,000 school referendum. Precision Plus continues to value the relationships we have with area schools like EAHS and Gateway Technical College (GTC), and we appreciate the passion our community has shown with its support. We are excited to help provide students with the opportunities that will lead to well-paying, rewarding careers.
Our economy depends on schools and businesses working together to produce a talented workforce for our manufacturing industries. Traditional academics, of course, are still just as important. By joining together CTE and core academics, students can learn abilities that tackle real-world problems. They can become professionals that apply their knowledge and skills to become innovators.
From regional district referendums like that in North Carolina’s Brunswick County, or state-wide like Measure 98 in Oregon, voters will be faced with important decisions this year when it comes to education. If you live in a voting district that has school referendums on the ballot this year, please educate yourself and be part of the process. Recognize the importance of “Fab Labs” at Cherokee Trail High School and others like it in schools all over the country. We are not doing ourselves any favors when our facilities or curriculum become outdated. Our nation and economy are determined by the strength of the next generation of manufacturers.