But here I see, from conservatives and others, that CTE (Career Technical and Education) is making - thankfully - a big comeback. Many of these new job start in high school and involve a couple of years of community code including algebra. Or, they are a stepping stone to a college-based career. It's not your grandpa's voc-ed and one more choice for students.
From the right-leaning Education Next (bold mine:)
In large part, this is because CTE has been chronically neglected by American education leaders and policymakers. Many CTE advocates suspect that it’s because of the damaged “brand” of vocational education. And it’s damaged for a reason, as there was a time when the “vo-tech” track was a pathway to nowhere. “Tracking,” as practiced in the twentieth century, was pernicious. It sent a lot of kids—especially low-income and minority students—into low-paying, menial jobs, or worse.
Yet America is an anomaly. In most industrialized countries—nearly all of which outperform us on measures of academic achievement, such as PISA and TIMSS—students begin preparing for a career while still in high school. Around the world, CTE is not a track away from a successful adulthood, but rather a path towards it.
American students face a double-whammy: Not only do they lack access to high-quality secondary CTE, but then they are subject to a “bachelor’s degree or bust” mentality. And many do bust, dropping out of college with no degree, no work skills, no work experience, and a fair amount of debt. That’s a terrible way to begin adult life. We owe it to America’s students to prepare them for whatever comes after high school, not just academic programs at four-year universities.What is today's CTE:
Despite its checkered past, modern CTE—often called “new vocationalism”—is a far cry from vo-tech. No longer isolated “shop” classes for students showing little future promise, CTE coursework is now strategic and sequenced. It entails skill building for careers in fields like information technology, health sciences, and advanced manufacturing. Secondary CTE is meant to be a coherent pathway, started in high school, into authentic technical education options, and credentials, at the postsecondary level.
Students learn skills that will help them prepare for stable careers and success in a modern, global, and competitive economy. A student who wants a future in architecture doesn’t question his first drafting course in high school. One interested in aerospace sees value in her introduction to engineering design class. An aspiring medical professional is enthusiastic, not indifferent, about high school anatomy.Here's a new study on this issue:
That’s where Fordham’s new study Career and Technical Education in High School: Does It Improve Student Outcomes? comes in. We wanted to know whether the students who participated in CTE—and especially those “concentrating” by taking a sequence of three or more courses aligned to a career in a specific industry—were achieving better outcomes than their peers. Were they more likely to graduate from high school? Enroll in postsecondary education? And, perhaps most importantly, be employed and earn higher wages?
Arkansas students with greater exposure to CTE are more likely to graduate, enroll in a two-year college, be employed, and have higher wages. Furthermore, those students are just as likely to pursue a four-year degree as their peers. In addition, students who “concentrate” their CTE coursework are more likely to graduate high school by 21 percentage points compared to otherwise similar students—a truly staggering number. Concentration has positive links with the other outcomes as well. Moreover, the results of this study suggest that CTE provides the greatest boost to the kids who may need it most—boys and students from low-income families.Great story from The Colombian about some high school students getting experience in a trade AND helping their district.
“The welding and fabrication program has a strong focus on community service and learning via real world projects” said David Richards, instructor for the program. “The unique partnership the program has forged with Pearson’s Field Education Center allows students to apply the skills they learned in the classroom to community service that helps the PFEC with their service oriented efforts.”