ACTE Statement on President Trump’s Remarks on “Vocational Schools”

February 1, 2018

Contact: Jarrod Nagurka

ACTE Statement on President Trump’s Remarks on “Vocational Schools”

Alexandria, VA – In response to President Trump’s statements (beginning at 22:33) at the Republican Retreat about “vocational schools” and community colleges, ACTE issued the following statement:

“Today marked the first day of CTE Month, a month recognized by Congress that aims to educate the public about all that today’s career and technical education (CTE) has to offer. But unfortunately, the President’s comments do not align with all that CTE Month celebrates and the opportunities that these programs offer.

We are concerned by the President’s remarks that mischaracterize the nature of today’s CTE, and stand ready and willing to work with the Administration to advance, promote and expand the many high-quality CTE programs that do exist across the country.

“Millions of high school students are enrolled in thousands of CTE programs that prepare students for careers in not only the traditional skilled trades, but also in nursing, coding, business, engineering and more. CTE delivery systems vary to meet the needs of individual localities, and community colleges play a vital role in these systems. From dually enrolled high school students to adult students seeking new credentials and careers, Americans value and trust the nation’s community college system.”


Quote: “I think the word ‘vocational’ is a much better word in a lot of cases than community college.”
Fact: The term “vocational” is long outdated.
“Career and technical education (CTE)” is the preferred term for programs today and reflects the nature of today’s CTE system that imparts students with not just technical skills, but also rigorous academic curriculum and 21st century employability skills in a much broader range of career fields. Both federal and state laws use the term, as does the U.S. Department of Education.

Quote: “When I was going to school … there were people in class, one person in particular, who wasn’t, like, the greatest student. He just wasn’t. And yet I saw him one day and he was able to fix a car engine blindfolded.”
Fact: CTE programs, like today’s high-demand career fields, require strong academic skills.
Students of all abilities and from all backgrounds benefit from high-quality CTE. In fact, CTE students have lower dropout and higher on-time graduation rates, and many transition to postsecondary education. CTE students are also more likely than non-CTE students to develop problem-solving, research, math, and critical-thinking skills, and are more likely to meet college and career readiness goals.

Quote: “We don’t have that very much anymore…” (referring to CTE programs in skilled trades)
Fact: High-quality CTE programs exist in significant number.
Thousands of CTE programs exist in CTE centers, comprehensive high schools, career academies, and CTE high schools. Additionally, nearly 1,600 2-year colleges serve millions of postsecondary students. High-quality CTE programs are thriving. The biggest barrier to their continued success and the opportunity for more students to access their programs are funding cuts, including a proposed 15 percent cut in the President’s own Fiscal Year 2018 budget to CTE programs.

Quote: “You learn mechanical, you learn bricklaying and carpentry.”
Fact: CTE encompasses a broad array of subjects that touch virtually every sector of the economy.
From health science to information technology and business management, today’s CTE students (94 percent of high school students and over 8 million postsecondary students) are tomorrow’s engineers, farmers, advanced manufacturers, technicians, businesspeople, and more.

Quote: “A lot of people don’t know what a community college means or represents.”
Fact: Americans are aware of and value community colleges and their benefits.
There are 30 million careers in the United States with an average income of $55,000 that do not require a bachelor’s degree, but in many cases require postsecondary education from a community college. In fact, in 2016 more than a third of undergraduate students attended public or private two-year colleges. One out of every five undergraduate students attended a public two-year college. Community colleges are routinely among the highest rated postsecondary institutions.


About ACTE
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is the nation’s largest not-for-profit association committed to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. ACTE represents the community of CTE professionals, including educators, administrators, researchers, school counselors, guidance and career development professionals and others at all levels of education. ACTE is committed to excellence in providing advocacy, public awareness and access to resources, professional development and leadership opportunities.