Calvert Bowen

In response to the growing needs of society, Boards of Education world wide have seen the need to diversify their offerings. Today's prospective high school student has more choices to make when he/she contemplates entering high school. There is the option to choose between a variety of Traditional High Schools and probably an equal number of Non-traditional Schools. CTE schools, arguably the most sought after non-traditional high schools, have grown in popularity in recent years. The abbreviation CTE, stands for Career and Technical Education, which includes comprehensive, vocational, and technical schools. Traditional High Schools do not normally have a career focus. Depending on the credit allocation for each course, a graduate might leave a traditional high school with between 36 - 42 credits; while that same student who attends a CTE school would require between 46 - 52 to graduate. (Beverley Gregory, June 19)

By offering very attractive compensation packages, the NYC Department of Education has been able to attract, not only people who are academically qualified, but also people who come to the classroom with a wealth of knowledge that they have acquired while working in the field. (Beverley Gregory, June 17)

Many people feel that Career and Technical Education (CTE) is the place where non achieving students get sent, if they are unable to function in the academic subjects. Nothing could be further from the truth. Students who attend CTE schools are required to fulfill all the graduation requirements that are expected of the average high school student, in addition to their vocational competences. In essence, they actually have to work harder and take much more credits. For this hard work, the successful graduate will leave with a diploma that has the CTE endorsement. This is equivalent to an Advance Regent’s Diploma – but it is much better. The advantage to these students is that they are prepared to enter college immediately or enter the workforce, since they also have mastery in industry certifications.

Contrary to the popular view that the CTE teacher, and by extension the CTE student possess less intelligence than those who pursue the more traditional form of learning, the CTE student has to be competent in a number of other disciplines to be truly successful. Top of the food chain of related disciplines is English Language Arts (ELA). ELA become important not only for business communication, but also to help the learner to develop literacy skills that will help them make sense of whatever is learned.

As soon as teachers of every discipline come to terms with the fact that ELA is an integral part of their subject, and as such, acknowledge that we are all ELA teachers, then and only then, will students performance improve, and access to education become more equitable. Unfortunately, this is still not the case, since ELA teachers are often blamed by other teachers for poor performances on tests like the Global History Regents, rather than ensuring that explicit writing instruction is integrated into their classes.

Please watch this CTE video at:
and search around on the site. (Mingyu Li, July 2)

ELA is an important part of a child’s education. When students integrate in the world knowing how to communicate will be their greatest resource. CTE students need the same skills as any other student. CTE is a great alternative to conversional schooling. They learn skills that will be valuable many years to come but always should be encouraged to get a college education.
Art Schnee