By guest blogger Kimberly Shannon
Senator Charles Schumer is pushing for the New York state board of regents to approve initiatives that would create two new alternative graduation pathways for high schoolers--one in career and technical education, and the other in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, education. The senator, a Democrat, wrote a letter to the commissioner of education and the chancellor of the board of regents urging them to adopt the initiatives and to work with organizations dedicated to career-tech and STEM education to implement them into schools.
The initiatives were proposed by the state education department in April. They would give students three options for high school: a traditional general-curriculum pathway, a career-tech pathway, and a STEM pathway.
Currently, New York state requires students to take a global history Regents exam; but the proposal would allow students on the CTE pathway to take a career-tech assessment instead, while students on the STEM track would take an additional math or science assessment. CTE assessments will be in approved subjects, such as aviation, computer systems and networking, and medical assisting, which are outlined as examples in the department's proposal.
Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said in June that the board would make federal School Innovation Fund and School Improvement Grants available for districts interested in implementing these pathways.
"Many of our employers in New York are looking for employees but are having difficulties finding workers with the necessary skills to work in their emerging fields," Schumer wrote in his letter. He cited a June 2011 study by the Rochester Institute of Technology that found that a there is a strong demand for manufacturing workers in Upstate New York, particularly in tooling and machining, that cannot be filled.
He also requested that the board look to such organizations as the New York State Technology and Engineering Educators Association to inform the process of implementation, as "they have documented and studied ideas of how to best incorporate these new pathways to graduation with a well-rounded education for our students."