Oklahoma: Diversity and Inclusion Training Program

Some states have signaled the importance of equity in  Career Technical Education (CTE) by creating equity-focused staff positions. In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education created the position of a state-level equity and diversity specialist in 2016 as part of its senior leadership team. The focus of this position is to provide trainings to agency staff, teachers, administrators, non-instructional staff and Career Technical Student Organizations to promote equity as a priority through both the secondary and postsecondary systems. These trainings raise awareness of and address issues pertaining to implicit bias, cultural awareness and diversity; they are interactive and involve role-playing to illustrate the effects of stereotypes and bias on people’s everyday experiences.

Policy in Action

Since the trainings began in 2017, more than 2,100 people have participated each year. As the program continues to expand, stakeholders have requested customized training and helped to engage more groups. The trainings are evaluated to ensure that the needs of the participants are being met and to garner recommendations for continuous improvement. Because the trainings are voluntary, in addition to advertising the trainings via media, the agency relies heavily on participants marketing the trainings through word of mouth. Urging training participants to recruit others creates a grassroots effort to shift mindsets on equity in CTE. By hiring a staff member to address issues related to equity and diversity, Oklahoma also is signaling that it values equity and is beginning the process of gaining buy-in within the state agency. While creating positions solely focused on advancing equity in CTE may not be feasible for other states, state agencies can invest in equity and diversity-focused professional development opportunities that equip staff with the knowledge to think and talk about issues through an equity and diversity lens, which helps to foster a culture that values equity.

Related Links

Website: Oklahoma CareerTech  "Why Diversity and Inclusion"

Website: Oklahoma CareerTech Diversity and Inclusion Initatives

Website: Oklahoma CareerTech Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Training and Skill Building

Resource: Making Good on the Promise: Building Trust to Promote Equity in CTE

Last Updated January 2019

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Published: 
January 2016