Will School Districts Create and Support Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs? Will Parents Demand the Creation and Support of CTE Programs?

The Board of Regents is a policy board, teachers, principals and superintendents work for elected school boards and mayors. The gap between creating policy and implementing policy is yawning.

The number of CTE seats in New York State have been declining and the seats in New York City drastically reduced. The Bloomberg/Klein administration closed the vast majority of vocational high schools for poor academic performance. For decades vocational high schools were a combination of students seeking career skills and a dumping ground for low performing students. City administrations made no investments, equipment deteriorated, the schools were shunted aside, with the phase out of the local diploma vocational high schools were doomed, there was no way students could earn 44 credits, pass five regents exams and the 10-12 technical credits.

On the national scene the emphasis was on the “college” part of college and career ready. David Conley, Educational Policy Information Center defines career ready as “Individual possesses sufficient foundational knowledge, skills, and general learning strategies necessary to begin studies in a career pathway.”

The US Department of Education supports CTE programs and lays out a detailed plan in “Investing in America’s Future: A Blueprint for Career and Technical Education.”

The Business Council of New York State strongly supports Career and Technical Education programs.

The teachers union advocates for CTE education by hosting a major conference,

Some 400 local and regional educators gathered with business, higher-education and union leaders at a Career and Technical Education Summit at UFT headquarters … to explore ways for schools to build high-quality CTE programs to meet the needs of the city’s future labor force.

UFT leader Mulgrew and business leader Wilde wrote a joint op ed in the Daily News supporting CTE and state actions.

From Washington to Albany, from the business community to the union, all support CTE education, yet, of the 210,000 K-12 classroom teachers in NYS (2011-12) only 2200 teachers are Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers.

For a few years the Board of Regents has been grappling with the paucity of students in CTE programs around the state. The Regents took two actions this week in an attempt to jump start CTE programs.

* A “4 + 1” option – in lieu of passing five regents exams students can substitute another option, including a CTE assessment (see details: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2014/October2014/Pathways.pdf)

* The certification process for new CTE teachers will be streamlined.

Will the new emphasis encourage school districts to increase CTE seats and encourage students to enroll in CTE programs?

There are three models of CTE programs in the state,

The BOCES Model:
The state runs 37 BOCES centers around the state that provide educational services for several categories of students with disabilities as well as career and technical education programs. The student attends his or her regular district high school and takes the CTE courses at a regional BOCES site – the district pays the BOCES a set amount for each student. This is the “standard model” outside of New York City. In these trying financial times districts do not want to incur additional costs and the CTE option is frequently not encouraged. Coop Tech is a BOCES-type model in New York City – student take academic courses in their home school and CTE courses at Coop Tech on East 96th Street in Manhattan – unfortunately there is only one site. (Read about Coop Tech: http://www.co-optech.org/)

The Stand-Alone Model:
In New York City and a few other cities there are long standing “stand alone” CTE schools that are high performing, The Department did open a High School for the Building Trades and a few a few small high schools (Advertising and Media, Film-Making).

The Strand Model:
Large high school might have a CTE strand in the school, for example Park West High School, a 2000 plus seat comprehensive high school had a 60-student elevator repair program in the school. As the large high schools closed the strands disappeared. Due to complexity of the state approval process the strands were not approved by the state and not eligible for special funding, (The Perkins Act)

New York State approval process for new CTE programs is enormous complex, in fact, onerous.

An approvable program contains a related and continuous series/combination of courses/experiences in a career and technical area and academic and technical knowledge and skills in preparation for further education/training and/or employment in a career. The program is taught by appropriately certified and qualified teachers and is supported by work-based experiences, integrated and/or specialized instruction, a Work-Skills Employability Profile, technical assessments and data on student performance in academic and technical areas.

The state must streamline the approval process.

Will the state actions result in the expansion of CTE programs?

Outside of NYC, yes, if parents demand more seats.

Inside of NYC, CTE programs have to be recreated, the infusion of significant funding to rebuild the programs is crucial.

For example, Coop Tech has to be replicated in each borough; new CTE programs must be coordinated with industries and community colleges, all possible if supported by the mayoral administration.

The Regents can create policy, the business sector can offer political support, the unions can offer whatever is needed, the problems are at the local level, do school districts and cities have the desire and the ability to create and support CTE programs.

I asked a school district, “How many students do you send to CTE programs at BOCES?”

The district, “10.”

Me: “Why only 10?”

The district: “We only have 10 seats on the bus.”

Hopefully, in the future, districts will reply, “We’ll support all kids who wish to avail themselves of CTE BOCES programs,” and New York City will offer a range of CTE programs across the city.

Unfilled jobs because schoosl aren’t graduating qualified students is simply unacceptable.

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