The logic is sound: if our community is better educated, it is better for everyone, and this is why our region–thanks to the leaders at Mountain West Investments–has seen a massive increase in the business community investing into our local education system. Although we have seen this positive change, the national tide of funding is actually flowing away from education in favor of other things.  Programs are being cut in other communities and students are receiving less academic and personal support than they have for years. Here is a simple fact:

Good Education and Good Communities Go Hand-in-Hand.

This does not mean one strong school as a flagship, as it is in many larger communities. It means significant investment in education across states, cities, towns, rural areas, and communities until children in our community and our country receive the education they deserve.

Why? The answer is simple. Education is the economic driver of success and production in our communities. It starts in Kindergarten, and on up to 12th grade. When students receive support at the beginning, they are more likely to pursue higher education, whether as part of a trade program or a university. They are more likely to understand civic responsibility and community engagement.

One such program in the Salem-Keizer area that focuses directly on building the next generation of skilled workers is the Career Technical Education Center or CTEC. CTEC shows students different paths they can go down after graduating high school. They put on different events throughout the year where students get to do hands-on demonstrations with local companies, they take students to visit college campuses, and off-site to businesses. They help introduce the students to entry level careers, technical careers, and professional careers. 

CTEC has juniors and seniors in high school, from all over the Salem-Keizer School District. Students are accepted into a two year a program of study. They spend half their time at their resident high school, and the other half of their time with at the CTEC facility off Portland Road. The skilled teachers and business liaisons show students the different career paths that are available to them after they graduate high school.  This kind of robust education program provides students with a competitive advantage to enter the workforce.

Here is a list of all ten of the ten programs students can choose from:

  • Residential Construction
  • Manufacturing, Welding, & Engineering
  • Video & Game Design Animation
  • Cosmetology
  • Drone Technology & Robotics
  • Auto Body Repair & Painting
  • Business Development & Leadership
  • Law Enforcement
  • Culinary Arts
  • Agriscience

On the other side of the coin, areas where schools have been underfunded for a long time see disengaged citizens. Unsupported students grow up with a mindset that they are not highly regarded by the decision-makers in their area, because frankly, they aren’t.

What Can We as Citizens to Support Our Education System?

It is not complicated. As business owners and citizens, we often ignore the lasting effects of a strong education system in terms of our own lives. But consider this: a larger crop of successful students in our community will mean a larger pool of potential employees. The business community will benefit when strong students stay around. The ones that leave will benefit other communities near and far.

So what’s the solution? Support your local education system. Vote in favor of funding bills for education. If you run a business, use education as your outlet for philanthropy whenever possible. Ensure that the students in your community have access to school supplies, books, and other tools to maximize their education, because when the education system is strong, the community grows as a whole and becomes a better place to live.

Click the CTEC image above to see a video on how CTEC was founded and how it has impacted our community in a positive way so far.

The author Zachary Sielicky is the Membership Manager for the Salem Chamber of Commerce. Zachary advises businesses in the Mid-Willamette Valley on how to connect with the community and fellow businesses. The Salem Chamber is a Convener of leaders, a Catalyst for positive change, and a Champion for a thriving community. Are you a business leader? Find out what kind HERE.

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