Career and Technical Education (fka Vocational High Schools): Why Doesn’t Tweed Support CTE Programs? Why Are So Many Kids Allowed To Fall By the Wayside? Why Does Tweed Ignore the Cries of the Construction for Qualified Workers?

 

…a farrago of squalor and raucous mayhem.
Jeffrey Taylor, Atlantic Monthly, September, 1966.
 
How many times have you heard someone say: college isn’t right for this kid, can’t you teach him/her some marketable skill? like carpentry, or plumbing, or electricity, or computer repair?
 
In the dim past NYC had a rich panoply of vocational high schools as well as shop/home economics programs in both middle and high schools. The middle school programs were victims of budget cuts in the eighties and nineties. Shop classes had a firm class size of 24 (regular classes were 30 in Title 1 schools and 33 in others) and shop classes needed a steady supply of materials. Principals, in their wisdom, or lack there of, eliminated shop classes and the BOE allowed it to happen, after all every kid was going to go to college …right?
 
Vocational high schools once were the pride and joy of the system, again, they were allowed to deteriorate. Park West High School had a “vertical transportation” program, aka elevator repair. The very expensive equipment was provided by the unions and most of the kids went on to union jobs in the elevator repair industry or transit authority. Park West was closed and the program disbanded.
 
Today is the last Assembly Hearing on School Governance, the Brooklyn session. Each hearing has a theme, (the Bronx English Language Learner hearing was a zoo) …, Staten Island was Special ed, etc.), the Brooklyn Hearing is Career and Technical Education (CTE). I’m sure the Department spokesperson will laud the four year 67% graduation rate in CTE schools compared with 64% in academic high schools.
 
A few queries: the State Ed Department has recognized CTE programs in a range of schools. How many kids are in CTE tracks and how many receive CTE diplomas? The CTE diploma, aka, Diploma with Technical Endorsement is far more rigorous than a Local or Regents diploma, kudos to the State Ed Department. The NYC DOE website has tons of longitudinal graduation data), nothing on CTE diplomas.
 
The State lists 76 programs in 36 schools, how many kids are enrolled in the programs, and, how many receive CTE diplomas? I fear only a handful.
 
Of the 200 or so small high schools only a few are CTE schools (Food and Finance, HS of Computer Technology at Evander), I don’t consider the HS for Advertising/Media and the Film School real CTE schools.
 
The DOE did open a new construction trades school in Queens, why not one in each borough?
 
A close friend of mine’s son has a serious learning disability. He struggled through school and dropped out of high school. Supportive parents encouraged him, he received his GED, worked part time in construction trades, got into an Architectural Assistant Program at a SUNY school, graduated and now runs a small construction trades business.
 
How many kids could have been saved? How many dropouts could have been prevented? Could be running their own small businesses?
 
The DOE CTE programs are a farrago, a clumsy attempt to justify a failed program, actually the lack of any substantive program. And the kids? pawns being used for the greater good … polishing Joel’s reputation and Mike’s legacy.
Is there no shame?
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