Thursday, November 29, 2007

Career and Technical Education (Part II)

A continuation of yesterday's "Wednesday Issue:"

When discussing CTE, we must weigh the good with the bad. For all of these benefits of these programs, I still have my questions and reservations about CTE. Primarily, I take issue with the way that CTE has been operated in the past – as a tracking system that diverts minority kids from college prep programs. With CTE, low expectations are a very dangerous temptation. (“Oh, Miguel isn’t doing well in his academic classes, but it doesn’t matter - he doesn’t need US History to be a mechanic.”) Therefore, when designing CTE programs – particularly CTE programs that will cater to minority students – there must be equal emphasis on academic instruction and career training. We must ensure that these programs are preparing our children for all of the opportunities that they will face after graduation – in both the workforce and the academic world.

My other reservations about CTE are more philosophical. While well-balanced CTE programs surely have the potential to produce students who are both technically skilled and intellectually creative, I often wonder if a focus on “marketable skills” reduces students to robot workers. Intellectual curiosity and creativity must not be sacrificed in the name of career preparation – especially since they are essential to so many careers. Having a wide exposure to different subjects and disciplines is as important as having specialized training and CTE programs must be carefully designed to include both.

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