NEW YORK—Educators, school districts, community colleges, city governments and business groups will collaborate to support career and technical education to provide powerful links between high school, well-paid jobs and higher education, under an American Federation of Teachers multicity initiative announced today.
Under “Promising Pathways,” the AFT Innovation Fund will invest approximately $500,000 to support four local AFT affiliates’ work with their local partners to expand career and technical education opportunities. The cities are Peoria, Ill.; Pittsburgh; San Francisco; and Miami. In each city, the career pathways will be closely aligned with the local job market.
“Today’s career and technical education is a promising pathway that engages kids with real-world training and academic content and leads to further educational opportunities for 21st-century jobs. But the only way CTE will be a pipeline for good jobs is if the business community and government are real partners at the table with schools. That’s what’s happening now in New York, it’s what our teachers need, and it’s what this multicity compact is designed to encourage,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.
“CTE teachers help students develop the ability to collaborate, communicate, solve problems, think critically and apply their knowledge. These are the skills kids need to thrive in our fast-changing world,” she added.
The AFT’s approach is inspired by CTE programs in New York City, a national leader in collaborating with partners to create innovative, high-quality career and technical education pathways. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who joined Weingarten at the announcement, said he considers CTE a critical component of a robust education agenda and has committed to expanding the number of programs in the city.
“Career and technical education opens doors,” de Blasio said. “These are cutting-edge programs in fast-growing fields like tech, life sciences and modern manufacturing that prepare young people for college and strong careers. We’re making investments in New York City that link our schools and workforce development programs directly with employers to make sure we are investing in the skills and jobs of tomorrow. We applaud the AFT and the United Federation of Teachers for bringing educators and the private sector together to invest in our young people’s future.”
Union, school and municipal leaders of the four cities, plus New York, signed a compact pledging to build promising pathways for students that lead to opportunities for further education and good middle-class jobs in their communities.
The grant to the Peoria Federation of Teachers will jump-start a local effort to bring partners together to create pathways involving manufacturing and healthcare.
Peoria Federation of Teachers President Jeffrey Adkins-Dutro: “The Peoria Federation of Teachers has been working closely with our city’s elected officials as well as its business stakeholders. Some may say the teachers’ union and the business community make for strange bedfellows; not in Peoria. We are working together to provide high-quality CTE experiences for students in our city.”
Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis: “For Peoria to reach its community and economic development goals, we need our high school graduates to go on to college or attain postsecondary credentials that are recognized by local employers. Businesses need the Peoria talent pipeline to supply skilled and credentialed individuals. In return, they need to provide work-based learning and on-the-job experiences to students and teachers. We’re excited to continue to work together to develop pathways from high school through community college and into the workforce.”
The grant to the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers will support a teachers union-school district-city partnership to open an academy to train students for careers in the city as police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. The union also will train guidance counselors on the benefits of CTE and work with parents to build support for them.
Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President Nina Esposito-Visgitis: “This gives us an exciting opportunity to redefine what CTE is all about. We’re creating a strong partnership that will provide students with a solid academic program and skills training that will lead to good public safety jobs.”
Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto: “Our goal is to invest in our community. We can create a pipeline into meaningful careers for the youth of our city. This program supports our administration’s priority of becoming a ‘My Brothers Keeper’ community and ensuring that all youth have access to workforce development.”
The grant to the United Educators of San Francisco will help prepare middle school teachers to teach computer science, as part of the school district’s new preK-12 computer science initiative. The goal is to prepare all students, in an equitable fashion, with the digital skills and knowledge to succeed in life and work.
UESF President Dennis Kelly: “The United Educators of San Francisco is joining with the school district to usher in a technology curriculum that attacks the digital divide and brings all students to the point that allows them to flourish in our new technological world of work.”
San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Richard Carranza: “Computer science teaches important, transferable skills. It requires innovative thinking, creative problem solving and cooperative learning. It is a driver of both innovation and economic productivity. As we phase in a preK-12 computer science curriculum, we are committed to partnering with SFUSD educators to ensure that they have the expertise, support and credentialing to teach computer science.”
The grant to the United Teachers of Dade and the United Faculty of Miami-Dade College will assist in the creation of a community college pathway to prepare students for careers in emerging technologies aligned with local job opportunities in healthcare and information technology.
United Teachers of Dade President Fedrick Ingram: “Simply put, students need a pathway to work. If we can provide certification or credentials, or prepare students for a profession in our global marketplace, we have done our jobs well. In Miami-Dade County, many students go from school to work, so we need to provide as many career and technical education opportunities as possible for them to learn, grow and be productive in society.”
The AFT is running ads today in newspapers in New York, Peoria, San Francisco, Miami and Pittsburgh to introduce students, parents and others to the benefits of today’s career and technical education programs. For more information, go to: www.aft.org/CTE.
For more information about the AFT Innovation Fund, go to www.aft.org/about/innovation-fund.