Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

For Teachers, a Dearth of Education

Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

For Teachers, a Dearth of Education

Article excerpt

Lifelong learning has become a familiar catch phrase Educators and employers have realized that it is critical for today's workers, who must continually update their skills to keep up with marketplace demands. Continual training is critical if this nation is to remain globally competitive.

Vocational-technical educators are key providers of this training. How ironic, then, that they often are not afforded the same opportunity for the kind of essential, practical education that they provide to others.

The professional development portion of the 1990 Perkins Act has never been funded. Before 1990, educator received a token amount for professional development from federal acts. Though small, the funding sent this message to the states: Professional development is important for teachers.

Since that funding was cut, the news has not been good for educators who want to keep up to date with issues and instructional strategies. Most state vocational department staffs that once provided crucial in-services and one-on-one consulting have been all but eliminated.

In the most fortunate of districts, local funds have been made available for instructors' learning. But in this time when it is not uncommon for school districts to be at the brink of bankruptcy, many instructors don't get the opportunity to upgrade their skills. Postsecondary institutions have not escaped this belt tightening, either.

New skill needs and new strategies are constantly coming to the forefront and vocational-technical educators must receive appropriate training to incorporate both. We must seek innovative ways to provide professional development for these teachers.

Partnerships with business and industry are one potential answer. Many large companies are willing to let educators participate in skill and managerial courses they teach employees. Schools could offer their facilities for the classes, making the arrangement a true partnership rather than an "adoption."

Businesses also might offer internships to vocational-technical teachers for "on-the-job" training during non-contract time. The business benefits by having additional trained workers for a small stretch while school district administrators rest assured that their instructors are current with workplace skills and processes. Core academic instructors also could participate in similar internships to see more clearly how information they teach is applied in the workplace. Internships can be structured so that participants earn credit toward recertification.

Individual districts, too, may work together on a professional development program for instructors from several districts. …

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