The Infrastructure Bills and Career Technical Education (CTE): Changing the Future for a Generation of Students

The bipartisan $1T Infrastructure (19 Republicans voted for the bill) and the $3.5T Democrats-only bills both passed the Senate (through a  process called reconciliation –  read a description of the reconciliation process here and here)

Senator Sanders called the bills the significant legislation since FDR’s New Deal.

How big is the infrastructure bill?   Read NY Times here and Brookings Institute here.

The Brooking Institute says “…the infrastructure bill puts America closer to another New Deal.”

 The arcane rules of the Congress will drag final passage into September, if the bills get that far.

The reconciliation process with take weeks and the Democrats have to hold together a razor thin majority in the House.

The bipartisan bill and $3.5 trillion budget plan, which would unlock an expansive legislative package that includes spending on health care, child care and education, has cleared the Senate. Liberal Democrats in the House have said they will not support the bipartisan infrastructure bill without passage of that far larger package.

I’m not going to get into the weeds; the progressives (“the Squad”) in the House could attempt to hold the infrastructure bill hostage until they are satisfied with the much larger budget proposal.

The $3.5T reconciliation bill is popular with voters (Read analysis here).

The bills will create many millions of jobs over the next decade and the vast majority of jobs will not require a college degree, these are traditional blue collar jobs.

Currently our high schools do not prepare students for blue collar jobs, high schools prepare student for college. While college graduates earn more money over a career than high school graduates the numbers are unclear for high school graduates with high skilled jobs. How much does your plumber or electrician charge per hour?

Over the years we have encouraged students to move from high school to college and have allowed vocational educations programs to fade away.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs and student apprenticeships are commonplace in Europe and sorely missing in our education system,

In contrast to the U.S., Germany has a highly effective work-based vocational training system that has won praise around the world. While university graduates in Germany also earn much higher salaries than workers who have attained less education, vocational education and training (VET) in Germany is a very common pathway to gain skills and embark on successful careers: 47.2 percent—nearly half—of the German population held a formal vocational qualification in 2016. Fully 1.3 million students in Germany enrolled in VET programs in 2017, compared with only 190,000 individuals who registered for apprenticeship programs in the U.S. in the same year. Less than 5 percent of young Americans currently train as apprentices, and most of them are in the construction sector.

Although New York State has hundreds CTE areas on paper the number of students who graduate with CTE endorsements is low and actual CTE diploma endorsements are left to the local school districts.  The state does not even list the number of high schools graduates with CTE endorsements on their website.

The actual approval process for CTE programs at the state level is onerous.

Changes in state regulations take months, frequently years; the state has a unique opportunity.

New York State is in the forefront creating P-TECH (Pathways in Technology), high schools that work with a community college and a major corporation – the goal is for students to graduate with a high school diploma, a community college degree and a job offer. The model has grown across the country.

New York State needs a Career and Technical Education model that replicates the European model; secondary schools can move to convert to CTE schools or CTE cohorts within existing schools.

Industries, unions, schools and State Departments of Education can collaborate and offer internships for students as they move through schools leading to work/study apprenticeships in a fifth year and a job.

For years I have encouraged the creation of Habitat for Humanity High Schools, a half day of academic, job-related academics, let’s call it career-related sustaining education, for example, using math in construction projects, “materials” embedded in science classes, and, the other half of the day working on a job site.

I’m not saying high school graduates should avoid college; I’m saying CTE secondary schools, community colleges and blue collar jobs lead to valuable and enriching careers.

One response to “The Infrastructure Bills and Career Technical Education (CTE): Changing the Future for a Generation of Students

  1. Agree with you 100% that “New York State needs a Career and Technical Education model that replicates the European model; secondary schools can move to convert to CTE schools or CTE cohorts within existing schools.”

    Mn has a law allowing students starting in 10th grade to take free c-t courses on 2 year public college campuses. As you know, a lot of the c-t fields require very expensive equipment.
    Whether available on high school or college campuses, many more youngsters need these options.

    Like

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