The East Valley Institute of Technology’s career training programs aren’t just for high school students. They’re also for adults making a career change or wanting to acquire skills that will help them compete in today’s competitive job market. EVIT’s Adult Education Consultant and State Senator David Schapira talks about the state of adult education in Arizona.
Ted Simons: Adult education ranges from GED programs to career training classes for graduates looking to learn new job skills. Here to talk about the state of adult education in Arizona is state senator David Schapira: who is also an education consultant for the east valley institute of technology. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.
David Schapira: Good to be here, Ted.
Ted Simons: Define adult education.
David Schapira: Adult education has become a lot of things. We used to think of just a couple different options. We used to think of either the University or a trade school. Today we have a lot of options for adults. We have the traditional four-year degree at a University and then maybe post graduate after that. We have community colleges. We have trade schools and we have these new things like EVID. We have a lot of options for students out there now. Let's say you decide you want to be a Ph.D. or you want to be a faculty member, you want to be a teacher. Get the four-year degree. Students are going to community colleges and getting associate's degrees and going from there to careers, sometimes going to the university to get, to finish off the four-year degree. And students are coming to places like EVID to get a job or a career. The difference being that in some cases they are student driven. So the Universities and the community colleges, we have students who show interest in a certain profession and those institutions create classes for 9 those students. Places like EVID, we go to industry and say, what jobs do you need filled? And where do you have your needs? And then we create courses based on the jobs that are throughout that need to be filled. If you build it, they will come. The students then come to our courses to take classes because they know they can gets a job after school.
Ted Simons: These are students who have their high school diplomas. For those who don't getting those folks up to speed, if you will, are we doing better?
David Schapira: We are doing better now. Obviously, it starts with the problem. And the problem is, we have a lot of high school dropouts in this state. Our dropout rate is among the worst in the country partly because of our failure to invest in K-12 education across the spectrum. Now, then you take the next problem which is you have students who dropped out of high school and now need a career. And so what's happening is we have a lot of these students going into GED programs with the superintendent just announced we are among the top in the nation in adult education. That's great. That's the remediation we are providing for those high school dropouts and getting them GED's and getting them in places like. EVID where they can come and learn a skill. They can learn to do HVAC or cosmetology or become a nurse. And then actually get a job.
Ted Simons: It does seem like twin tracks. We are watching classes at EVID and again certifications and skill development and these sorts of things for those who have already graduated. Relatively new idea or thinks just a trade school on steroids?
David Schapira: EVID has been around for quite some time and traditionally our focus has been on high school students. It's very different from the old vocational Ed model we had when you and I were in school. What has shifted we are a centralized campus where school districts across the east valley sends middle school students to do these different career programs. And then a lot of our high school students get certifications at the end of the programs. On the adult side almost all of our adult programs are programs that end in some sort of certification but certainly preparedness to go right into the job market and start a career.
Ted Simons: So with that in mind let's get back to those who are grappling to get their GED, grappling to get that high school education. It sounds like we are doing well. It sounds like the funding may -- what kind of funding is out there for those folks? What kind of funding is out there for EVID?
David Schapira: One of the fascinating things is that we have done this great job getting these folks GED's and he acknowledges in the press release there's 6,000 adult students on this waiting list to get into our adult education programs to get GED's and that's a problem. I think we have to have access to opportunity. I have always sedation is the boot strap by which you can pull yourself up. Certainly I think our state has failed to, except in our K-12 system, to prepare our students and fortunately we are at the top in the nation. We are near the top in the nation in helping those adult students once they dropped out to get their GED's and get back on track but still we are failing those 6,000 adult students who are on the waiting list or adults who want to be students who are on the waiting list so they can go to a place like EVID to get a trade.
Ted Simons: What would that funding pay for in terms of adult education?
David Schapira: It would pay for the preparation of the courses, the curriculum, the teachers, the testing in order to get those adult students back on track to get the GED. As far as places like EVID is concerned we are a public school. We are funded in terms of high school students but when it comes to adult students they pay a tuition. There is no state subsidy to help those students who want to come. We are offer an a forwardable alternative to the trade schools out there but we are operating with no state funding.
Ted Simons: You mention alternative. Is there a problem with competition? Do community colleges see a problem with community college? Universities? It seems like there's a lot of folks going for these adult students. A little tough stuff out there?
David Schapira: Yet there are still a lot of industries who are desperately seeking people to come fill these positions. So I don't see it as competitive. Frankly, I think the student that goes to a Mesa community college or Scottsdale community college or paradise valley community college, I think they are seeking something a little different and a lot of them are turning into a two plus two model. Two years, get their associate's degree and then to ASU or another four-year institution. We are not a degree granting institution. So we are not in competition in that aspect. The students that we get right students who are coming to get a skill, our superintendent Sally Downey says every scholar needs a skill. They want them to be prepared to go out in the job market and be successful.
Ted Simons: With that in mind what is the future of adult education in Arizona? Not just with EVID but folks getting the GED up to speed. What's the landscape?
David Schapira: The future is ensuring that every adult in this state has the educational opportunities that they need to be successful. And I am also on the board in Tempe union high school district and we talk about career college and live life. And we have to continue to improve our education system so our students are prepared for a college, career, and life and EVID are doing a great job of a that.Ted Simons: Great to have you back here. Good to see you again. Good to see you
David Schapira:State Senator and Adult Education Consultant, East Valley Institute of Technology;