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Panel ‘rethinks education in Alabama’ on May 21

An upcoming seminar will re-evaluate how Alabamians educate their children.

Leadership Huntsville/Madison County is presenting “Pathways to Success: Rethinking Education in Alabama” at Lockheed Martin Corp., 4800 Bradford Drive in Huntsville on May 21 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Leaders in education, business and civic affairs, along with parents, will have “a provocative discussion about a different vision of preparing students for college, career and beyond,” Dr. Camille Wright, secondary education director for Madison City Schools, said.

Wright serves in Leadership Class 25 – State Government Group. “Our group decided to address career and technical education (CTE),” she said. The group will award a yearlong scholarship to a Calhoun Community College student pursuing a CTE field.

Panelists will include Dr. Phillip Cleveland, Dr. Amy Brabham, Dr. Helen McAlpine, Bethany Clem Shockney, John Allen, Bill Taylor and Ed Castile.

Currently, a discrepancy separates workforce needs and education’s output, the group determined. Since 2007, CTE students and programs have decreased due to apathy and financial inability to sustain programs, Wright said. Since 2002, state and federal funding has decreased.

As a result, “bottlenecks and shortages of workers with particular skills and training arise leading to sub-optimal economic results and loss of production to other states,” Wright said.

Other statistics are sobering:

* Alabama’s graduation rate is 65 percent.

* Alabama’s unemployment rate is about 10 percent — more than 20 percent in some areas.

* Student loan debt is greater than credit card debt.

* Average age of two-year college students is 29 years.

However, the future is brighter. Wright’s group believes Alabama’s CTE will be “in harmony with current and future workforce needs in Alabama.” She cited solid CTE preparation for grades K-14, younger two-year college students and current residents filling high-demand jobs with top wages.

The group produced a CTE documentary that will air at the seminar, on WHNT May 27 at 11:30 a.m., WHNT-2 May 29 at 7 p.m. and streamed on their website.

“CTE is for everyone … a chance for students to practice the academics they’re learning and (to apply) core subjects. Students (can) try out career fields to see where they fit,” Wright said.

For more information, visit pingg.com/5z34jkq86ic2tx6zk.

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