Thursday, February 13, 2014

CTE Task Force continues . . .

Tonight was the second meeting of the full CTE Task Force with the responsibility to recommend to the Board:

  • Career clusters and Pathways that guide program of study development and building design decisions.
The Board has provided us with parameters that the committee is using to narrow 16 possible career clusters down to 4 or 5 for final consideration.  One would think that it would be a fairly objective process considering the parameters and content of the work.  That is, however, far from our reality because of our old friend mental model and past history with CTE programs.  While the focus of the work is at a broad level, it is very difficult to separate our current programs and classes when engaging in this priority process that some see as potentially excluding continuation of long standing classes and the teachers who teach them.  This led to anxiety and tension for many in the room making it more difficult to maintain a focus on the parameters big picture decisions.  The parameters are shared below.
  • Workforce trends
  • Livable wage jobs
  • Articulations with higher education
  • Business and industry opportunities for student experiences
  • City and Chamber vision 
  • Flexibility
  • Utilize partners
Thus far we have identified four priority clusters that align with parameters for program inclusion.
  • Health Services
  • Information technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)
We are currently in the process of prioritizing one additional cluster for possible consideration from the following four.
  • Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
  • Arts, A/V Technology and Communications
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Transportation (Auto)
We meet again in two weeks to continue our conversations and prioritization process as we identify the programs that will position our young people for future success in post high school learning and work. This is exciting yet challenging work that we are engaged in with the potential to provide quality learning experiences for our young people.  This includes a partnership with the State Workforce Development Council that could lead to expanded partnerships with business and industry partners.

1 comment:

crystal said...

Mike, I am confused. Why is it that only 4 or 5 career clusters can be considered when thinking about the new building? I understand that there is only so much space and that we need to think about workforce trends and livable wage jobs, etc, but I cannot for the life of me understand how we could even consider not keeping some of the four listed last (ag, communication, culinary, and auto).

As someone who teaches in IT, I, of course, believe that IT is part of our future and that more students need to learn about it; but as I tell my students, I do NOT expect the majority of them to go into CS as a career. I just want to expose them and show them how CS is a part of everything--how my class can teach them critical thinking and problem solving that will translate to ANY career. For the majority of kids in my program, they are using programming to think in ways they never thought before and break down problems and software that they see in the world in a new way. The most important learning in my class is not the technical skills, it's the softer skills. (Though the kids seeking technical skills definitely leave with industry specific skills as well)

I feel strongly that there are students who need each of those last four clusters who will find a hard time fitting in to a school where those programs no longer exist.

Each of the first four (health, IT, manufacturing, and STEM) can eventually be outsourced or, at the extreme, converted to robots or such, but the last four lead to jobs that probably can't go away or be outsourced because we need those jobs local. They are also clusters that can led to hobbies that kids are passionate about even if it doesn't end up being their career.

If we are truly thinking about kids first, I think we should be encouraging them to try different things and stretch their learning in different ways while in a high school setting--keeping them as well rounded as possible. I feel like high school should be a breadth curriculum and post-secondary work is when they move to a depth curriculum--whether that be college, on-the-job training, or a technical school. I think it's our job to give kids as many opportunities as possible and let them decide where their heart and passion lie; it's not our job to pigeon hole them into a career at this stage of their life. I want kids to leave our district with a plan, but I'm not sure I believe that plan has to be "I want to be X". Why can't it be "In high school I discovered that I liked X and didn't like Y, and I think I should explore more about Z"?

Maybe I misunderstand the focus behind identifying 4 or 5 career clusters to prioritize, but it just feels like we are taking opportunities away from kids when I thought that the new school would actually do the opposite.

Please help me understand.