By Nancy Gutierrez
Agricultural education, along with other high school class electives like industrial education, woodshop and home economics receive funding through the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998.
Vocational education, or career technical education, as it is now called, has changed from a job training program in 1910 to a hands on educational experience with value added academic components. However proponents of this form of academics must continually fight budget cuts and work to keep vocational education classes in institutions. With the current budget crisis vocational education is certain to experience cuts in funding and classes.
A July 8 article in the Christian Science Monitor reported that, "President Bush's budget proposal for fiscal 2004, which began Oct. 1, 2003, recommends cutting federal funding for vocational education from $1.3 billion to $1 billion. It also proposes that states be allowed to transfer vocational education money to Title I, the federal program designed to improve education in low income schools."
Current budget constraints, an increase in school enrollment, and pressure on schools to boost basic academic achievement has left little support for non-core academic classes. But some educators see vocational education classes as effective tools in teaching those standards to students and keeping students in school.
Director of the Tulare County Organization for Vocational Education (TCOVE), Ron Johnson, said studies done by Visalia Schools show an increase in graduation rates among students involved in vocational education and the TCOVE program.
Tulare county school administrators saw the importance of career technical education in the early '70s. The County Office of Education and 13 other school districts created a joint powers agreement that brought TCOVE to life and built a Regional Occupation Center (ROC) for each district to use. The center boasted a centralized kitchen for culinary instruction and a facilities for instruction on public safety.
Johnson said there were three methods used at the ROC, classroom instruction, community classrooms and cooperative vocational education.
Community classrooms involved students working at various job sites as interns. Cooperative vocational education involved actual payment for students working at cooperating job sites.
"It went well until the 1990