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AFT President Promotes CTE and Renewed Perkins


October 11, 2013


AFT President Promotes CTE and Renewed Perkins

On October 10, AFT President Randi Weingarten addressed an audience of CTE advocates at a United Federation of Teachers meeting in New York, calling for high-quality CTE as a way to retool schools and focus students on today's needed careers. She said policymakers need to fully fund the Perkins Act and voiced strong opposition to proposals that would redirect federal Perkins formula funds to competitive grants.

Along with the praise for CTE, Weingarten said that many individual views of CTE have been negatively influenced by the "separate but unequal" history and tracking of low-performing students that sent some students to intellectual jobs and four-year college and others to manual blue-collar jobs after high school. Weingarten said today's jobs demand that students have both intellectual and manual skills as she advocated for a focus on quality CTE and definition of the elements of effective CTE programs.

The AFT President suggested a few Perkins recommendatons in addition to resources and investment. She said grants need to be targeted to where programs will be most effective noting that the funding cannot be "swallowed up" by state and district bureaucracies. She referenced project-based instruction and labs as the types of items to fund, and noted that teachers must be honored and respected. "We demand so much of teachers and need to treat them as the professionals that they are," said Weingarten, and she added that the teacher's voice is needed in molding the new CTE agenda.

ACTE has developed a full set of Perkins recommendations and is actively discussing the reauthorization with key decision-makers on Capitol Hill. Both Executive Director LeAnn Wilson and I attended the UFT two-day meeting which culminated in vists to high-quality CTE schools such as Pathways in Technology (P-Tech) Early College and High School in Brooklyn and Aviation High School in Queens. Weingarten, who formerly taught in a CTE school, noted the need for CTE advocates to join together to demand more attention from leaders in Washington.

ACTE plans to meet with AFT following the event to continue conversations about how to partner on effective CTE policy and advocacy strategies.

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