On behalf of the nation's more than 200,000 career and technical education (CTE) professionals, I would like to thank The Sun for its recent editorial highlighting the importance of career and technical education ("The day after graduation," April 7). It is crucial that Americans, especially parents and students, understand the value of these programs and the return on public investment provided by CTE. Maryland students can benefit from the millions of well-paying, respected careers that are available in CTE fields.

Today's students deserve the opportunity to explore all career pathways available to them and to obtain the education necessary for success whether that means gaining employment immediately after high school, participating in an apprenticeship, earning a valued certification or proceeding to an academically rigorous two-year or four-year institution to earn a degree.

We commend the Obama administration for the Youth CareerConnect initiative, which will support more students in their quest to secure meaningful, fulfilling employment in careers that are relevant to business and industry needs. Youth CareerConnect has the potential to build on our nation's CTE investment, but equally important to CTE educators, administrators, guidance counselors and students is the infrastructure and funding provided by the federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. This program delivers the bulk of resources and support required for a robust CTE system that supports the economy and bright futures for Maryland students, no matter what school they attend.

LeAnn Wilson, Alexandria, Va.

The writer is executive director of the Association for Career and Technical Education.

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