Future of hands-on learning discussed at Canyons

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 1 2011 9:23 p.m. MST

SANDY — The Canyons School superintendent wants the district's board to rethink the resources it spends on Career and Technical Education programs, such as wood shop and home economics.

Superintendent David Doty said he wants the district to prepare its students for careers in the modern world. That means obtaining higher education and certificates in order to compete in the marketplace.

"Almost all of what used to be low-skill, high paying jobs have all but disappeared," Doty told the board and several dozen CTE faculty and supporters Tuesday attending a board work meeting on the issue. A public comment period followed.

He said that as the district builds new schools, it ought to consider how many square feet should be designated for CTE courses that "are grossly underutilized," at some of its operating schools.

Doty said he wasn't proposing cutting jobs nor was he proposing any specific plan of action, but asked that the board consider whether stand-alone wood shops and home economics facilities should be included in the new high school to be built in Draper. The board was instructed to make a decision on what would be included in the new high school within two weeks.

Sharon Squires, CTE specialist at the district's technical education center, said she was hopes the board would see the value in CTE programs, and act accordingly when it comes time to make a decision on how the district will move forward.

"I'm am very hopeful … that they will realize the relevance," Squires said. "We are the relevance for the math class. We are the relevance for the science class."

District spokesman Jeff Haney said the board is in the very early stages of discussing what, if any, changes will be made to CTE programs in the district. At its study session, the board asked district staff to compile more data for it to review, and also asked that public outreach be conducted.

Doty said that overall, he would like to see the district expand its CTE offerings, but in a way tailored to fit in with the kind of careers the market demands. He said he would like to see more CTE courses in engineering, computer science and health.

"In my opinion, there are some of those (current) programs that don't match up with the high-skill, high-pay jobs of the future," he said.

At the business meeting where public comment was invited, one CTE supporter said he was offended by the insinuation that only high-paying jobs are worth having.

"It is not our place to tell a student that a talent is not worth pursuing because it will not make them a fortune," said high school teacher Jeff Murri.

"I believe (CTE programs) make people well-rounded individuals," said board member Mont Millerberg. "You don't have to be a doctor, you don't have to be a lawyer to make a living."

Millerberg's comment was followed by applause.

The board also discussed possible restructuring options such as collaborating with other districts for CTE offerings, and cutting back on programs at some schools, but bolstering them at others.

Interestingly, the board's meeting was held on the first day of National CTE Month, a "month-long celebration."

E-mail: mfarmer@desnews.com

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS