Magazine article Techniques

Bad Dreams and Empty Parking Lots

Magazine article Techniques

Bad Dreams and Empty Parking Lots

Article excerpt

The place was Oklahoma State University. The class was Dr. Lucille Patton's "History and Philosophy of Vocational Education." And the quote that I remember jotting down in my class notebook that was to be permanently etched in my mind went as follows: "Don't ever forget that vocational education is not a required subject, and the day your students perceive their participation in your class as not adding value to their lives will be the day you'll be looking at an empty classroom."

To a first-year marketing education teacher, that statement was pretty scary and still serves as a source of motivation to me as a career-tech administrator. It is probably the reason for a recurring nightmare I have. In this dream, I'm at Francis Turtle Technology Center in Oklahoma City, with our state-of-the-art facilities and highly qualified faculty. Then comes the part that wakes me up in a cold sweat--an empty parking lot! Talk about a bad dream! But it could certainly happen if we don't constantly seek to redefine ourselves in light of what our customers want and need in an ever-changing workplace.

Career-tech is not immune from the same disease that felled once highly regarded private sector icons such as Montgomery Ward, Oldsmobile and the village blacksmith. In light of all the challenges Career and Technical Education (CTE) regularly faces, I think it is imperative that we don't automatically become excessively defensive when we feel we are being attacked, and objectively ask ourselves if there is a possibility that CTE really is "our father's Oldsmobile."

It may be that a key to maintaining support for career-tech will be our willingness to provide programs and services our stakeholders want, and people in public office who feel an allegiance to the constituency who elected them are part of those stakeholders. If they feel that career-tech is not adding value to improving the education of students at the high school level, as suggested in a recent letter from Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to the Chairman of the Committee on Education and Workforce, then we had better listen. If No Child Left Behind is going to be a priority, then how can we contribute to that effort? I would suggest that there are many ways we can, and that new Perkins legislation should be directed toward making that happen. …

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