|Ben & I with Maggie Cox, president-elect of
NACTE prior to our podcasting session
|One question that came up in our presentation: were we going
to provide beer for the session?
As for the panel, as I had mentioned, I did not know what I would be addressing, so I tracked down Craig after my session to inquire. He informed me that I would be on the panel with Snehal Bhakta, a friend of mine from my years in Las Vegas and a coordinator of career & technical in the school district, and Dr. Summer Stephens, the superintendent of the Churchill County School District in Northern Nevada. The topic of the panel would be equity and access to career & technical education for all students. While I am not an expert on career & technical education, I did work at a CTE school for many years and along with my (limited) experience in special education, I do have strong feelings about access to CTE curriculum for students and schools, so I was very excited to serve on the panel, especially with two people like Snehal and Dr. Stephens that have a lot of experience in CTE and leadership.
I had never served on a panel prior to this. It was a bit intimidating to think that I would be put on the spot with questions that I hadn't been presented with prior to the panel, but the topic was something that I was knowledgeable of, passionate about, and I had two other people that I would consider experts along with me to take some of the pressure off. Once we got going, I had nothing to worry about; in fact, the first question that was presented by the moderator was something that I wanted to answer right away.
|It was an honor to serve with Snehal Bhakta and Dr. Summer Stephens on this
panel. I look forward to serving on another panel someday!
As the panel progressed, my colleagues on the panel brought up some great points about bringing access to CTE for all students. Topics covered ranged from the funding of CTE programs, encouraging female students to enroll in male-dominated courses like auto mechanics, welding, and computer science, to one of the most intriguing topics, how schools build their schedules around academic and CTE courses to provide access to all students. I had never thought much about this before, but it made me realize that many schools struggle with this. Often times, in order to give students a schedule that meets the required courses in which they must enroll, students are excluded from enrolling in their first choice elective courses, which include CTE courses. Schools must work harder to ensure that students have access to their preferred electives and work to build schedules that allow students to explore their interests. To piggyback this, I also believe that schools need to work harder at building relationships with "non-traditional" education programs, such as with companies and unions in the community. Colleges and military branches are always represented at career days, why can't something like a local carpenters union also be represented and come to schools to give presentations? Perhaps this is the case where you teach, but it is something that I have not seen much of in my career and the schools in which I have taught.
|Prior to the event, Ben and I got on our bikes
along the beach near Asilomar, taking in the sights!
Ultimately, whether talking about access to career & technical education curriculum for all students or providing a way to provide professional development to all educators, the takeaway from either is that we must work together to provide students with the best possible education and opportunities to explore their interests. Choices in electives for students and providing training for educators to be better at their craft is a great start. I encourage you to ask the tough questions about what we can do to be better for our students.
Until next time...