Charting the CTE Course – California Teachers Association

How can schools create and expand CTE programs with new public funding?

Should the vocational technical curriculum be taught in elementary and middle schools?

Can schools make CTE programs more equitable, meeting the needs of all students?

These topics and more have been explored by educators committed to the future of CTE in their communities. “A forum to talk about expanding the CTE program,” sponsored by the El Dorado County Leadership Academy (composed of CTA chapter leaders from across the region) coincided with the governor’s announcement to spend 1, $5 billion for CTE over the next four years. The May 6 event took place at the site of a charter school in the El Dorado Union High School district.

Josh Kean

Participants included members of: Black Oak Mine Teachers Association, Buckeye TA, San Joaquin County Educators Association, El Dorado Union High School District Faculty Association, Camino FA, Gold Oak TA, Placerville Elementary EA, Mother Lode TA, South Tahoe EA and the Elk Grove EA.

Some members were accompanied by their administrators and members of the school board. Such collaboration is necessary for high-quality CTE offerings, participants agreed.

“This is an example of how CTA is working with school leadership in multiple districts to help make CTE more accessible to all of our students,” said Lance Gunnersen, CTE carpentry and engineering teacher at the El Dorado High School, who helped organize the event. “It is great to work with other educators and administrators at all levels to provide students with CTE pathways to careers. Our job is not just to send children to college, but to provide them with opportunities for life.

Student engagement in CTE and career exploration at a younger age—rather than waiting until high school—was embraced by guest speakers including Carrie Ferrero, STEAM Expo Project Coordinator, Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Office; Dr. Ebon Brown, Deputy Superintendent, Beaumont Unified; and John Merris-Coots, California Department of Education.

Tiffany Whetstone, a kindergarten teacher on special assignment at Gold Oak Elementary School, enjoyed the discussions about integrating CTE into the existing curriculum.

“CTE in elementary school is essential for helping young students explore their interests and possibilities, practice problem solving, and develop the skills to work collaboratively with their peers,” said Whetstone, Gold Oak YOUR.

“It can be as simple as providing science tools and natural objects for a kindergarten science center,” she added. “In transitional kindergarten, this could be a mock animal care center that includes pictures, diagrams and appropriate tools donated by a local veterinary clinic. All of the foundational skills we teach in TK through Year 2 can be practiced in an authentic and highly engaging environment that considers and integrates CTE. »

Josh Keane, a math/science teacher at Herbert Green Middle School in Placerville, became interested in strategies to integrate CTE into the middle school curriculum and took the lead in his school.

“CTE in elementary school is essential for helping young students explore their interests and possibilities, practice problem solving, and develop the skills to work collaboratively with their peers.”

— Tiffany Whetstone, Golden Oak Teachers Association
silver haired teacher wearing glasses

Tiffany whetstone

“It was eye-opening to understand the importance of introducing CTE at an early age,” the Mother Lode member TA said. “Our school implements Project Lead the Way (a non-profit organization that offers the STEM K-12 curriculum) for students in grades 7 and 8, so they can solve real-world problems through programming IT, construction and implementation of projects.

“In addition, we will integrate with the Department of Education’s California Career Resource Network, which offers four assessments to help students find careers that match their interests. Students can watch videos to explore careers and learn about their economics and viability. »

Wendy Lockhart, CTA’s co-consultant to the Committee on Adult Technical, Alternative and Vocational Education, shared tips on how schools can benefit from new state funding to create career paths complete for students.

“Districts can apply to the state, or they can join other groups and apply,” said Lockhart, a former school trustee at the Campbell Union High School District, where she helped start a manufacturing pathway. “But they have to apply for programs for new
funding – in technology, healthcare, education and climate-related areas.

Denise Bushnell, professor of business and innovation/entrepreneurship at Sierra College, participated remotely and encouraged coding boot camps and entrepreneurship activities for students of all ages.

The FA member from Sierra College emphasized the equity and importance of CTE opportunities for all students. When some of her students couldn’t get to a manufacturing site two miles away, she developed a lab on her campus that includes 3D printers, sewing machines, welding equipment, robotics and a photo space.

Mike Patterson, CTA board member and automotive technology teacher at South Lake Tahoe High School, said the forum raised awareness that CTE programs — and teachers — needed to be valued.

“We need to treat CTE teachers with respect and provide them with support and decent pay,” Patterson said. “We need to create high quality CTE facilities. When we do these things, then we can find teachers to fill these positions, despite a shortage of CTE educators.

Comments are closed.