Background – Informational Overview:
The School of Cooperative Technical Education has served a diverse population of students since its inception in the Fall of 1985. It was designed to provide an occupational education sequence option to students who had belatedly realized their interest after having missed their opportunity to apply for the mainstream vocational programs. The target student profile was an eleventh grader, 16 years old, career or college bound upon graduation two years down the road. These students would pursue one of two modalities, Co-op or BOCES.
Our Co-op model would be conducted outside of the building at various locations. The site would be staffed by a teacher and paraprofessional and administered and supervised from the main building. The students would be part of the Board of Education’s Alternate Week Cooperative Education program. Here students would be paid to work a four and a half-hour day under the direction of the teacher engaged in various construction or maintenance activities for one week. The following week would see an entirely different class of students take their place while the first class was attending a full week of full day academic courses at their `home’ school. Until just this current semester our co-op program dealt exclusively with either construction trades or building maintenance. We now are engaged at one site in a special initiative with a non-profit organization, Computers For Youth, to train students in computer refurbishment and to provide computers for economically disadvantaged schools and students.
These students would either travel directly to our school from home, attend class and then be bused to their `home’ school where they would receive their academic courses or they would attend their `home’ school first and report here for the afternoon. Most courses were intended to span two years of triple period instruction. Courses ranged as they do today but were skewed more heavily towards traditional manual skill disciplines such as machine tool metal working.
Today our course catalogue lists 16 different programs spanning the alphabet from Automotive Electronics to Welding. There has been a trend towards the infusion of electronic technologies as represented by the proliferation of Computer Systems and Computer Repair course offerings. Another trend, begun just this past semester, calls for all programs to be designed around a modular curriculum that can be accomplished in a single year.
The Challenge of the future:
The Board of Education and the State Education Department have recognized a deterioration of consistent quality in the output of the mainstream student in New York City and many other districts around the state. As a means of arriving at a more standardized product a movement has been instituted to mandate a regents diploma of all high school graduates thereby certifying that every student has met a minimum standard of academic competency as evidenced by the tests a regents diploma is based upon. This has adversely impacted on the availability of our traditional student. All eleventh graders form the cohort by which each school is evaluated. Consequently, these students are not easily released from their school to attend our classes, for to do so risks the students in question being unable to receive adequate seat time in their academic subjects should any remediation or enrichment be required by the student. This has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of special education, G.E.D. and adult students that have grown to roughly half of our enrollment.
The rate of progress in the development of technology began to accelerate to geometric proportions at approximately the beginning of the nineteenth century. Today the pace of change is so rapid that as a technical text is published it has grown obsolete in the time it takes to go from manuscript to printed volume. We must find the means to revamp our courses and course offerings to meet the changing needs of our students and society within the confines of our facility, budget and contractual concerns.
There are a lot of `Best Kept Secrets’ in the Board of Education. We feel that the existence of our school is the leading one. We seek recognition for two reasons, the recruitment of students looms as the most significant concern. However, there is another reason of equal or greater concern to the school, the mere value of name recognition when one of our graduates presents their completion certificate. If a job applicant presents credentials to a corporate human resources officer that show Lucent, A.S.E., Cisco or M.S.C.E. certification the applicant is regarded with a significantly higher degree of respect then if they apply with our certificate alone. While I don’t expect our certificate to ever parallel the degree of recognition of any of those listed, I do believe that we have less `Brand recognition’ than schools such as Apex and T.C.I. who advertise heavily in the media.