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ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

House STEM Hearing Touches Importance of CTE

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4/17/13

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House STEM Hearing Touches Importance of CTE

Last week, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education held a hearing to discuss the current state of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in America and to re-evaluate the federal government’s role preparing students for today’s high-skill, in-demand careers.

Testifying before the committee were:

Throughout the hearing, the testimony of these witnesses highlighted the need to educate our students to be able to compete and succeed in high-skill, in-demand jobs in the STEM fields and how CTE programs play a role.

During questioning by Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), witnesses agreed that STEM academic programs are boosted when integrated with rigorous CTE programs. According to Dr. Schneider, within CTE programs are where a lot of schools are able to build their rigorous STEM curriculum, and these integrated CTE programs offer pathways for all students to move on to two- and four-year postsecondary education and to earn STEM credentials.

Despite the acknowledgment that rigorous CTE programs do prepare students for college and career readiness in STEM fields, there were also comments that seemed to imply the opposite. Following a question by Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) about why DSST Public Schools does not offer a CTE program, Mr. Kurtz commented that, while there is a need for career-ready CTE graduates, his school’s focus is preparing students to be four-year STEM college-ready. Digging in to that position, Mr. Kurtz continued by stating he’s “not anti-CTE,” but “believes many of [his] low-income students never have access to high-quality, four-year college STEM education.”

As the hearing concluded, it was apparent that both Republicans and Democrats agree that rigorous STEM education is important to the success of students after high school and to the economy as a whole. The questions that still need to be answered are how we can better integrate the technical side of STEM with the academics and how can CTE facilitate that integration and increase the rigor of those courses. It is also clear that, as CTE advocates, we must continue to emphasize that CTE prepares students for both postsecondary education and careers, and should not be seen as a barrier to a four-year degree program.

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