Meet Addy Kessler, Lincoln High School’s Instructor of Ceramics and the Art of Product Design. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art from Macalester College, and a Master’s Degree in Teaching Visual Art from Lewis and Clark, she’s leading hands-on career and technical education (CTE) courses that teach her students career-ready skills like clothing design, jewelry creation and entrepreneurship.

When Addy started at Lincoln, she taught on her personal sewing machine – her 15 students took turns guiding the needle and thread while their peers looked on. They practiced on scrap fabrics donated from local businesses. That all changed when Measure 98 funds hit her classroom.

“Measure 98 funds allow us to buy the tools and materials to actually do our jobs,” Addy says.

In just one year, the number of students Addy teaches has quadrupled from 15 to 65. Her classes now explore purchasing costs as well, so students learn about wholesale expenses and profit margins.

A Lincoln HS student designing pants in Addy Kessler’s classroom

This is just the beginning – Addy has big plans and hopes lawmakers will deliver full Measure 98 funding to help her achieve them.

“I love donations, and I am grateful for the local businesses who have been willing to share, and partner with us. Our community partners are incredible for supporting these classes, but more funding has allowed us to expand beyond just donations and create a truly sustainable program.”

Addy is a perfect example of how educators across Oregon are making the most of what is available to them. While only funded at 57 percent of its intended level, Measure 98 is allowing teachers to create career-focused opportunities their students would otherwise miss out on.

“I’m at 65 students now, and my goal is 150. I know the equipment I want to buy. I know what resources I will need to budget for to break from relying solely on donations. I just need the funding to do it.”

Fully funding Measure 98 in 2019 will allow Addy – and countless teachers just like her across our state – to build on the tremendous success they’ve already achieved. But that outcomes depends on more people sharing their Measure 98 success stories, just like Addy.

Your voice is vital for these funds! Click here to find out how you can get involved today!

 If you have questions, email me directly at [email protected]. You can also reach Stand for Children’s Portland Metro Organizer, Elona Wilson, at [email protected], or our Lane County Director, Joy Marshall, at [email protected]

“Kick a hole in education,” says Carol Egan, Director of the Center for Advanced Learning (CAL) in Gresham. “That’s the brand; that’s the culture here.”

As Ms. Egan welcomes Stand staff to the CAL campus for a tour of their cutting-edge facilities, it is abundantly clear that she and her team of dedicated educators are achieving that mantra. In the process, they’re setting their students up for success during and after their classroom years, and providing an example for educators across the state for how career and technical education (CTE) can improve their outcomes.

CAL welcomes students from five high schools in the region, offering six CTE-focused areas of study such as Health Sciences, Mechanical Engineering and Manufacturing, and Digital Media and Design. There is an unwavering eye toward the future with every course offered – CAL students can complete their entire English requirement for a Bachelor’s Degree while still in high school, or pursue an internship to help build their resume. The ultimate goal is to offer students the ability to earn an Associate’s Degree before they even graduate high school.

There are no bells on this campus, and there are no hall passes. “Class is engaging, so guess what students do?” Ms. Egan muses. “They go right back to class.”

That’s because at CAL, going to class means studying cyber security and hacking, or designing shoes with adidas in the school’s “Fab Lab,” or embracing aviation in a fully functional flight simulator, or studying health and dentistry at the school’s on-site facilities. Students may start the day welding or crafting in a foundry and follow that by designing marketing materials for a new food truck in the afternoon. Kids know exactly how their studies relate to the working world – in fact, they’re already a part of it. Pella Windows, for instance, relies on a component that CAL students created.

CAL’s success is just one shining example in a larger narrative about how CTE opportunities have a profound and positive impact on education outcomes. In Oregon’s most recent graduation rates released in January, students with at least one credit of CTE graduate at 86 percent, compared to 77 percent for those who don’t. Kids with two or more CTE classes do even better, graduating at rates up to 92 percent. At CAL, they’re blowing those rates out of the water with a 99 percent graduation rate.

Schools all over Oregon are now taking steps to share that success. Thanks to Measure 98, every school district in the state has new resources to invest in CTE opportunities. That means more engaging courses to capture and hold students’ interest, and it means more graduates with real-world, career-applicable skills entering the local workforce across Oregon.

That is a hole in education worth kicking, as Carol Egan and her staff prove every single day.

I made up my mind at 17 to drop out of school. I had a job at Hardee’s; I had a skateboard to ride; I had wasted enough time in classrooms that seemed so detached from life beyond high school. It was time for me to move on.

That was my plan, like many other kids who don’t see rigid high school classwork contributing to their future. But then my marketing teacher at Muskego High School in Wisconsin, Mary Martin, gave me a reason to stay. In fact, she gave me a lifetime of reasons.

Ms. Martin won the trust of this would-be dropout by embracing my strengths. Where some saw a disengaged teenager, she saw someone eager to be self-sufficient. Instead of pushing me to be more like the other kids, she connected me with the student store and helped with a co-op placement. Suddenly, my marketing class was relevant. And just as suddenly, I understood how school really could prepare me for the world beyond a classroom.

There’s power in meeting students where they are, instead of forcing them into antiquated boxes. That’s as true today as it was when I experienced it. Sensing the progress she made with me, Ms. Martin encouraged me step out of my comfort zone and compete in a DECA competition. For those who don’t know, DECA is a Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) that places kids in role-playing scenarios where volunteer judges evaluate their business and marketing skills. Before I knew it, I was on a bus with students I didn’t know, headed to a three-day event to put my marketing skills to the test in a way they had never been before.

The good news is I placed statewide; the even better news is I was hooked for life. I went from the cusp of dropping out to becoming our school’s elected DECA officer.

My experiences are relevant even today, 25 years after I graduated, because they’re far from unique. I went on to become a CTE teacher at Beaverton High School, and watched my own students find the same spark of inspiration in CTE that I did. My classroom was as much a home for would-be marginalized students as it was a place for them to learn. Hundreds of kids registered for DECA with me, making our chapter the largest in the state. I had the privilege of taking them to the same competitions that changed my life years before. We participated in regional leadership opportunities, national competitions, and alternated between a sports marketing conference in Orlando or the New York Fashion and Financial Conference each year.

Earlier this month, my DECA experience came full circle as I served as a volunteer judge for a new class of DECA students at the annual State Career Development Conference at the Jantzen Beach Red Lion. More than 500 students competed in fields like business management, finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, automotive services and much more.

Words cannot express how inspiring it was to see student leaders explain their understanding of the business and marketing industry. As I judged the Marketing Communications Series, I was struck by how many of the ideas I heard rivaled those of my former colleagues in the business community who were in their respective positions for much of their careers. These kids have been bitten by the same CTE bug that bit me. If my experiences are any indication, there is nothing but great things in store for them.

“It gave me wings to fly.”

That’s how Reynolds High School graduate Lizbeth Alvarado describes the school’s 9th Grade Counts program. When she joined the program the summer before her freshman year in 2011, Lizbeth became one of a handful at Reynolds to benefit from transition courses, personal interaction with her soon-to-be teachers, and individualized outreach from school staff designed to help her succeed in high school. The 9th Grade Counts program eases the transition into high school for students who may otherwise struggle with the changes, and it speaks volumes about the program that only two years after her own graduation, Lizbeth is back at Reynolds providing the same guidance to incoming freshman.

I met Lizbeth on a tour of three current 9th Grade Counts classrooms. I saw first-hand as incoming freshmen built rapport with their future teachers and adjusted to schoolwork at the high school level. I watched as teachers gained their students’ trust in return by investing so thoroughly in their success in the classroom. This guided transition is all thanks to a partnership between Reynolds and the Self Enhancement Institute (SEI), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping underserved youth realize their full potential. The collaboration, first facilitated by education non-profit All Hands Raised, relies on Reynolds to provide administrators and facilities to make the six-week summer program a reality, and SEI to provide staff and funding to make it a success.

Research shows that the academic foundation and student-teacher relationships forged in 9th Grade Counts and similar programs are vital. Students who are on-track to graduate after their first year of high school are four times more likely to walk in a cap and gown four years later. The challenge is reaching students early, and setting them up for success when a myriad of other factors could hold them back. That’s not easy in a large school like Reynolds, which welcomes 800 new freshmen every year. Last year alone, some 200 students applied for only 85 possible openings with 9th Grade Counts.

Fortunately, starting this year, Measure 98 is giving schools the opportunity to make new investments in freshmen success policies. Schools can use these additional resources to provide additional capacity for summer programs just like 9th Grade Counts, and hire counselors to provide more individualized support to students. They can develop the means to identify at-risk kids by analyzing attendance, grades, credits and disciplinary referrals. They can even establish an on-track data management system to monitor student progress, and implement policies in real-time to address problems like chronic absenteeism when they arise.

Nearly every school district in the state has already applied for funding, showing just how popular – and needed – the Measure and these policies are. Reynolds High School is leading the way for students like Lizbeth to succeed, but they’re also leading the way for other schools to follow suit with freshmen success programs of their own. By working together and embracing the opportunities in Measure 98, school administrators across the state are ensuring their students will thrive in high school and beyond.

Statement by Stand for Children Oregon Executive Director Toya Fick regarding House Speaker Tina Kotek’s revenue and cost containment proposal released last Friday:

“Praise is due for the leadership in the House for putting out a proposal that includes both additional revenue and cost controls. We also applaud the inclusion of full-funding for Measure 98, which is urgently needed to increase Oregon’s near worst in the nation graduation rates and prepare more students for careers and college. 

Oregon kids need a solution that will allow for investments in their future. That means there must be enough new revenue to make substantial investments in education – from early childhood to college – and enough cost controls to ensure the new money actually improves the education and lives of Oregon’s next generation. To us and to most Oregonians, it is unacceptable to simply allocate more and more revenue without an actual increase in the level of services provided. 

Our children need real leadership, and they need it now. School districts across the state are approving their budgets this month. They are handing out pink slips to teachers and aides and proposing cuts to much-needed programs. Universities and community colleges are voting to increase tuition by as much as 9%.

We urge legislators from both parties to come together in short order to agree on and pass a proposal that raises substantial new resources while also helping address the unacceptably high cost increases that threaten the next generation’s well-being and success.”

This week, supporters of Measure 98 went to Salem to share their stories with legislators. Many are talking about how career technical education had an impact on their lives. 

My career technical education story and my career were launched in Mr. Jason Resch’s marketing class at Beaverton High School. As soon as I started taking the class I began to see how much marketing is part of our daily lives. I remember going to a Seahawks game, and while everyone around me was focusing on the game, I was noticing the t-shirts, the hats, the billboards, and the other marketing opportunities surrounding me. 

After graduating from high school, I had the opportunity to pursue my love of motorsports and drive race cars. I was beyond thrilled to have sponsorship from GoPro and get outfitted with cameras for my races. That experience led me to a job with GoPro and eventually to start my own company, Donut Media. My company is a top media producer for all things automotive. 

My dream career started in Mr. Resch’s marketing class. It started with an opportunity to connect what I learned in the classroom to my experiences in the world. 

Measure 98 would give this opportunity to high schoolers across Oregon. By sharing our stories, we can help policymakers understand the real impact of career technical education and the importance of implementing Measure 98. 

Will you share your story? How did career technical education impact your life?