As part of Advance CTE’s vision, Putting Learner Success First, our organization has challenged the Career Technical Education (CTE) community to continue on the path of fierce dedication to quality and equity so that each learner is empowered to choose a meaningful education and career. Advance CTE recognizes that if we’re going to ask our community to commit to equity in CTE, then we must lead the way.
Our first step was to create the space at our 2018 Spring Meeting to begin this long overdue conversation with our membership about how we define and can achieve equity in CTE.
The conversation began with a panel discussion that featured experts in education and equity from the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Center for Law and Social Policy and United Way of Delaware.The panelists took a critical look at equity in CTE and examined the history of CTE and tracking students, the stigma around CTE and how equity should be defined within CTE. From this discussion, major themes about equity in CTE emerged:
- While CTE provides students with a variety of college and career options, institutions need to recognize that their “all are welcome” policies aren’t enough to engage diverse populations.
- Many institutions are operating with a “compliance mindset” by only focusing on gender equity (largely because of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act). To truly address equity concerns in CTE, institutions must move from a “compliance mindset” to an “improvement mindset.”
- Equity in CTE cannot only be about achieving proportionate representation in CTE courses. Student outcomes across populations must also be examined.
- State leaders have control over mechanisms (policy “levers”, program “levers”, funding, partnerships with organizations) that they can use to ensure equity in CTE.
Notably, Kisha Bird from the Center for Law and Social Policy recognized that while equity is a complex issue in that it is influenced by numerous social, economic and political factors, it is ultimately a simple problem that can be addressed by continually asking the following of any action: Am I creating or breaking down barriers?
The conversation held at the equity panel represents the beginning of Advance CTE’s ongoing commitment to promoting equity in CTE. As part of our equity initiative, throughout 2018, Advance CTE will be releasing a series of briefs about equity in CTE. This post is the first of two blogs that will highlight the equity discussions from the 2018 Spring Meeting.
Brianna McCain, Policy Associate