Mr. Dromm-- Here's How to Improve NYC'S Career and Technical Education

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Dr. Green

[Open Letter]

To: Daniel Dromm,
Educational Committee Chair
NYC City Council

From: Dr. Rupert Green, Author:
Vocational Education/CTE in NYC
School Size
NYC Gifted Schools
15-year Veteran NYC CTE/VE Educator

Congratulations for your effort to place some oversight on Career and Technical Education (CTE) in NYC, including the City Council you're chairing on September 21.

This undertaking is long overdue, and it will help elevate CTE as a pedagogical practice that has tremendous potential to improve educational outcomes for many NYC students. However, there are also long known and hidden pathologies that you need to be addressed to aid your quest.

Potential and Pathologies: In NYC, to the detriment of students, VE was taken out of the middle schools. Based on state law, VE is not offered to students before 10th grade. This is based on old thinking, as Green (2012)-my research-found that virtual technology allows VE to be introduced from kindergarten. Perhaps the laws must be changed.

According to my research, 21st Century Vocational Education (VE) has the potential to improve education for all students, and it could be more effective if introduced at an early grade. However, the historical pedigree wherein VE was used as a dumping ground for Blacks and Latinos caused them to shun it.

To inform your effort, the people of Singapore similarly shunned VE. However, their forward thinking political leaders, similar to you, interceded to the extent their VE is now the showpiece to the world, even prompting visits from delegations of NYC educators. In the United States, VE was renamed CTE to shun the negative image. However, based on its usage in NYC schools, the negative image may still be in the minds of NYC educators.

This was revealed in my recent study comparing the performance score of CTE/VE, academic, and the city’s gifted and talented schools. This is something you must commission a study on. I would gladly help with same.

Pathologies: The pathology in NYC is that though CTE, nee vocational education, is viable option for all students, it is mostly being used as a dumping ground for lower performing students, the disabled, and for students who end up in prisons. It is not offered at earlier grades to prevent students from going to prisons. According to Green (2012), if students are hooked with VE at earlier grades, it prevents dropping out—which leads to 65% of dropouts ending up incarcerated.

There is tremendous wastage where, for example, the DOE (District 79) spent over $500, 000 to start a CTE welding program at Boys and Girls High School, only to have the equipment scrapped or stolen, and the program killed. This occurred because the custodians did not want it there, and because of problems the school construction authority had related to putting in the right voltages. Another issue you must examine.

In many schools, unlicensed teachers are being used to teach CTE programs, and principals of CTE schools have no CTE background or license. To become certified as a CTE teacher, one must have at least two years paid experience working in the trade area s/he wishes to teach.

The discounting of CTE in NYC is further evidenced by the fact that in some CTE schools, administrators, for example, only have early childhood education teaching licenses. This is quite a contrast from academic schools, where even for an individual to become AP of the math or science department, s/he must respectively have a math or science teaching license. In a CTE school, a gym teacher could become the principal. This is a pathology that must be changed, the chief of surgery must have surgical experience.

In NYS, CTE accords students the ability to gain credit from their experience as apprentices in Work-Based-Learning programs. However, credit is dependent on them having state certified work-based coordinators. In many instances in NYC, there are no certified coordinators, and the only apprenticeship students gain is from sitting in their classrooms with their teachers and shuffling papers. Thus, there is fraud, where student are given credits in a manner out of compliance with the state department of education requirements.

The federal government is being defrauded as are students. As shown below, VTEA funding is to supplement the school budget. However, some schools break the law by incorporating federal fund in their regular budget. Additionally, being that there are no CTE qualified administrator or individuals to submit the VTEA narrative, fraudulent submission is made to the federal government.

The overarching purpose of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act IV (VTEA Supplemental Funding) is to help support the school’s ongoing efforts to strengthen career and technical education (CTE) programs.

A high-quality CTE program integrates a rigorous academic curriculum with career and technical training to ensure that students have the knowledge and competencies they need to succeed in college and careers. These supplemental funds are to be used for program improvement; technology expansion; professional development; and relationship-building with business, industry and postsecondary institutions (NYC DOE, 2016).
District 79 and CTE/VE
District 79 is a NYC DOE alternative educational program that extensively uses CTE/VE.

There are three types of alternative programs. According to Green (2012),
Type I schools were innovative and widely accepted by students for their meaningful, challenging curricula taught by motivated teachers. Such programs offered students the choice to attend and were often like magnet schools. Type II schools were viewed as last chance schools, where students were “sentenced,” (p. 19) with school expulsion being the next stage (Raywid, 1994). Type III schools were for remedial purposes and behavior modification, where students were offered the needed help and then returned to their home schools (p. 65)

District 79 adheres to Types I & II; therefore, VE is seen as a program for troubled youth, especially those in prisons. There is a need for it to change its framework to Type 1 and to offer CTE/VE as gifted and talented program—similar to the gifted and talented academic schools. If that is not done, it will be difficult for NYC parents to shake the perception CTE/VE program is for dunces and problem youth. Herein is useful information that will assist your effort.

Dr. Rupert Green

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