Research & Commentary: Missouri’s Career and Technical Education Advisory Council

Published March 17, 2016

In 2015, the Missouri General Assembly established the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council (CTEAC). The 11-member CTEAC advises the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and is tasked with developing strategic plans for career and technical education and working with public and private entities to improve technical education.

Missouri is now considering a bill that would direct the council to establish minimum requirements for career and technical education certificates that can be earned by students, in addition to a high school diploma.

Missouri State Sen. Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown) says CTEAC could help to make DESE more efficient by providing input and advice. “[CTEAC] would provide … the training that we need for the future workforce. … What’s being taught now, or what’s being provided by DESE, doesn’t match today’s technology,” said Munzlinger.

Nationwide student loan debt has reached more than $1 trillion, and many students have racked up significant amounts of debt without even finishing a degree program. A four-year college degree is not the right path for everyone, and encouraging all high school students to get a bachelor’s degree has proven to be detrimental to many, especially those who fail to graduate from college.

Most college students in America don’t graduate within four years, and the six-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduates is lower than 60 percent. All of these factors contribute towards rising college costs, while simultaneously failing to provide a sufficient number of Americans with the necessary skills required to compete in today’s economy.

Many career opportunities that are available require less than two years of training for qualification. Offering high school students the opportunity to explore technical career paths not only maximizes efficiency in education, it also saves students a great deal of money. These types of programs allow younger people to immerse themselves in other, often less-explored sectors of the economy that are typically glossed over in most traditional four-year colleges.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ U.S. employment projections indicate the majority of the new jobs that will be created during the next 10 years will not require skills obtained in a traditional university program. In fact, by 2018, over one million additional people will be needed for jobs that don’t require a four-year college degree, such as working as a home health aide, retail salesperson, and or as a truck driver. The Association for Career and Technical Education found that “27 percent of people with less than [an] associate degree, including licenses and certificates, earn more than the average bachelor degree recipient.”

If this new proposal is passed, it would give Missourians more job opportunities by encouraging alternative routes to obtaining jobs training without an expensive four-year degree. This would help reduce future student loan debt, strengthen the economy, and provide high school students with more career opportunities.

The following documents provide additional information on student loan debt and efforts to reform the U.S. education system.

Ten Principles of Higher Education Reform
Reforming higher education – getting costs under control and improving the quality of the education students receive – is one of the key public policy issues of our day. Are taxpayer subsidies to higher education justified? Should institutions focus more on core curriculum and less on athletics, entertainment, or fads? Why do students study less than they used to? How can colleges become more efficient? In Ten Principles of Higher Education Reform, authors Richard Vedder and Matthew Denhart answer these questions and many more, helping readers understand proven methods to improve U.S. education.

Rethinking Higher Education Regulation for an Unbundled World
In the face of rising costs and lackluster outcomes, traditional higher education is under increasing pressure to prove its value proposition. Meanwhile, new providers have “unbundled” the components of a postsecondary degree or certificate, offering stand-alone courses or sequences of courses, targeted job training, and assessments and certifications, often at a much lower cost than existing institutions. In this paper by American Enterprise institute researchers Michael Horn and Andrew Kelly, the authors say although these models cannot deliver all of what a traditional college or university does, they can provide affordable, flexible, and customizable opportunities to learn.

The Real Source of Soaring College Debt? Government
In this article published in School Reform News, which is published by The Heartland Institute, author Ashley Bateman reports on a 2012 study conducted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and U.S. Department of Education that shows easily available government funds offered to finance students’ college costs are fueling tuition increases and unnecessary college expenditures.

The Subprime College Crisis
Since 2000, U.S. taxpayers have spent $300 billion on Pell grants, and Heartland Research Fellow Joy Pullmann. Says in this Heartlander report there is no way of knowing how many of the recipients actually earned degrees.

Fixing Student-Loan Repayment
In this National Affairs article by Kevin James, the author shows how the federal student loan system exposes many borrowers to grave risks while wasting large sums of money on poorly targeted subsidies for special interests and poorly designed loan-forgiveness programs. Many on the left would address these problems by shifting more costs to federal taxpayers. Free-market advocates should instead advance reforms that change the incentives for borrowers and, perhaps more importantly, for colleges.

Nothing in this Research & Commentary is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of The Heartland Institute. For further information on this subject, visit School Reform News at, The Heartland Institute’s website at, and PolicyBot, Heartland’s free online research database, at

The Heartland Institute can send an expert to your state to testify or brief your caucus; host an event in your state; or send you further information on a topic. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance! If you have any questions or comments, contact Logan Pike, Heartland’s state government relations manager for Missouri at [email protected] or 312/377-4000.