Vocational ed? Do we all remember this from high school? The shop teacher with the missing fingers? The guys who took auto shop to learn to rev up their cars? We have come a long way and luckily Dr. Siegel is creating the SPS program to have more current programing AND appeal to a wider number of students.
We all know that students should graduate ready for college or career (as well as ready to be citizens of this country). What is the reality? A high drop-out rate, kids who either don't want to go to college or may not be able to afford it and fewer job options for students with just a high school diploma.
Career and Technical Education gives kids options. Gives them a reason to stay in school. Gives them the hands-on training that many kids crave, not only in academic subjects but in training that they can see as a job/career. It helps them to see the relevance for them in math and sciences as well as reading and writing.
From Dr. Siegel:
Two arguments dominate the landscape: CTE as alternative learning and dropout prevention and CTE as the key to economic revival.
The myth that any kind of technical training focus at the secondary level repudiates educating citizens for active participation in a democracy, or that it 'dumbs down' literacy and numeracy skills has been disproved for decades by the success of European economies and nations who provide serious technical training to a populace more politically aware, more historically conscious and more democratically active than Americans. (I note Brian Rosenthall's tweet of today that 81% of French citizens participated in today's Presidential election; US - 57%.)
In other words, our responsibility is to do more than deliver on the career-related skills and standards found in our curriculum. We must also ensure that graduates of our programs are finding adult success. That is the only real accountability measure that matters.
What already exists are the Academies of Finances, Hospitality and Tourism and Information Technology, Ballard Maritime, Biotech, John Stanford Public Service Academy and CREATE Academy.
The program that Mr. Siegel (a guy on fire about this subject) has set out will be the roll-out of four new skills centers at four high schools.
Cisco/Microsoft IT Academy at Rainier Beach. The courses will earn industry certification for Cisco and MTA pathways.
Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) at Seattle Center ( for Digital Animation and Game Programming). Courses taught in a professional production studio.
Health Sciences at West Seattle High. The fastest growing section of the economy and this program has job shadows, "externships" and hands on practice. There will also be opportunities to experience pharmacy and veterinary work.
Aerospace Science TBD A natural for our area. Designing, building and maintaining aircraft and their components.
There had been thought to one centralized Skill Center. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson had been advocating this idea and pushing for money from the Legislature to go forward. The money didn't materialize and the decision was made to distribute them throughout the city.
These Skills Centers are accessible to students from ANY SPS high school (but they can't provide transportation).
Future ideas for more CTE: green energy - engineering and marketing; Sustainable Construction; Business and Entrepreneurship; Criminal Justice and Public Safety; Culinary Arts and more.
From the webpage:
Cross-crediting is where a Career and Technical Education course provides high school students with core credit towards graduation and college and university admissions. It blends academic and career & technical studies. This is an alternative way for students to meet graduation requirements, and supports pursuit of preparatory Career and Technical Education course sequences. These courses support Washington State’s Essential Academic Learning Requirements. As examples, teachers have designed integrated projects combining physics and electronics; geometry and auto mechanics; English and marketing; algebra and drafting; physics and agricultural science; and medical terminology and Spanish.
Transition services are services above and beyond conventional high school classes that provide extra support for students who need assistance in preparing for college, in obtaining and sustaining employment, in independent living skills, and in other areas necessary to independent and successful adult life. These services are mandated for students with disabilities, but there are many more students who need and will benefit from them.
One thing to consider about all these career paths - it is not just about learning about one job within one industry. From my own personal experience with an aging parent, I have learned there are jobs, jobs, jobs in the geriatric field. It's not just healthcare but health care management, social work, nutrition, law, advocacy and on and on.
There are multiple jobs, with transferable talents to other industries, within these tracks. These academies may only be the start for some students who may stay in the field but not necessarily in the same area they thought they might go when they started out.
I really am hopeful and excited for these new ideas and energies for our SPS students.