CTE High Schools

Dear Readers,

As 2012 unfolds, career and technical education in New York City stands at the threshold of unprecedented opportunity. Education officials in the City and nationally are coming to realize that CTE offers a model of unique power and resonance through its fusion of academic rigor with real world application.

Currently, we boast 36 designated CTE high schools – half of which have opened since 2004 – and more than 400 unique programs of study in high schools across the five boroughs.  These numbers are poised to grow in the near future.  In his January 2012 State of the City address, Mayor Bloomberg pledged to open at least a dozen more CTE schools in high-growth economic sectors such as healthcare, professional services and hospitality.

As with virtually every aspect of New York City’s public school system, the CTE network experienced an enormous amount of change in recent years.  Reforms that emphasized principal autonomy and accountability allowed many schools to flourish, prominently including the newly opened CTE high schools.  Yet, these larger system changes inadvertently served to weaken some of the community structures that support CTE schools and programs.  An unfortunate result has been that best practices, relevant experiences and major successes often have gone unnoticed, and many opportunities for collaboration and replication have gone unfulfilled.

That’s where this publication comes in.

The Office of Postsecondary Readiness (OPSR) has launched CTE Spotlight as part of its ongoing effort to create a new, shared space for the CTE community in New York City.  Each month, it will feature enlightening stories and commentaries on the Department’s most successful CTE academies, schools and programs.

Our goal is for this periodical to stand as a mantle for our successes and a platform for the key issues facing our field.  Additionally, it will serve as an information resource for deadlines, new opportunities for funding and programs, and emerging structures within our field.

Ultimately, this publication’s focus will revolve around stories, not just for the CTE community, but from it as well.  As time progresses, more and more of the content contributed within each monthly edition will emerge from the very programs and schools we want to showcase.

To start us down that path, if you know of any stories and information you’d like to see featured here, detailing notable successes, interesting trends or worthwhile endeavors centering on the CTE community here in New York or elsewhere, please email me at DFischer@schools.nyc.gov or our Editor-in-Chief, Nicholas Martinez at nicholascmartinez@gmail.com.

Thank you for reading this inaugural issue. We look forward to many more to come.

David Fischer
Senior Director for Career and Technical Education
NYC Department of Education

Return to top of page.

Posted in A Note From The Editor | Leave a comment

On Your Mark

Competition Corner

Virtual Enterprises International Competition
On Friday, January 13, over 160 VE students comprising 20 teams from 17 high schools participated in the New York Citywide Business Plan Competition which was hosted by Deloitte and Touche. After achieving top honors in the New York Citywide Business Plan Competition, the following firms will advance to the 2012 National Business Plan Competition which will be held on Tuesday, March 27 (preliminary round) and Wednesday, March 28 (championship round):

  • 1st Place: Brandmark, Edward R. Murrow High School, Brooklyn, NY
  • 2nd Place: Bon Voyage Travel, Fort Hamilton High School, Brooklyn, NY
  • 3rd Place: Solarity, New Dorp High School, Staten Island, NY

The National Business Plan Competition, sponsored by the New York Life Foundation, is a two-day competition that challenges Virtual Enterprises International students from across the country to demonstrate their global business expertise through written business plans and oral presentations. The United Federation of Teachers and McGraw-Hill Companies will host the March 27 and March 28 competitions respectively.

Graphics Commission 

Return to top of page.

Posted in In The News | Leave a comment

Moot Court

New York City’s budding legal eagles had the opportunity to spread their wings and soar to victory on an international stage this past February.

The Justice Resource Center, a New York City Department of Education partner that provides law-related programs and curricula to 46 career and technical education academies, sponsored a team to compete at the first International Moot Court, an event staged within the hallowed halls of the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands.

The mock trial tournament, which featured 12 high school aged squads hailing from Argentina, Russia and Poland among other countries, played out like a typical court room drama.  Student lawyers delivered prepared arguments, faced verbal barrages from opposing legal teams and addressed lines of questioning from court judges based upon a classic mock case created by the International Bar Association of England.

And in the end, the best and brightest local high school “all-stars,” selected from the rich talent rosters found within New York City’s legal academies, defeated all comers and took home the championship.

“I’m thrilled for these students,” said team coach and Clifford Chance lawyer Ari Kahn.  “They can feel like their work has paid off.”

He added, “I was not able to be there in person.  [But] I video chatted with them through Skype after their big win.  It was great to see them so excited . . . they were jumping up and down.”

The inaugural contest, which was held from February 14th – 17th, revolved around the fabricated trial of “Felippe Torres vs. The Prosecution.”  In the case’s fictitious back story, Torres, a fictional militia leader found guilty of crimes against humanity, was appealing a 2007 decision rendered against him in the International Criminal Court.

Dutch law practitioners and Amsterdam Law School students served as moot court judges during the opening rounds, while the championship match-up – – a clash that pitted New York versus the team representing Caracas, Venezuela – – was judged by five sworn International Court justices in the historic Peace Palace, a Dutch landmark known as the “seat of international law.”

“It’s been something I’ve been dreaming about doing for years,” said Debra Lesser, Executive Director of the Justice Resource Center, about the first Moot Court competition.  “This dream could only become a reality because of others that believed in this idea.  The City Hall of The Hague were amazing in supporting the project.  [And] the teachers and lawyer coaches were equally amazing.”

The students received a detailed case information packet last fall.  With the help of New York City based legal professionals like Kahn and his colleagues from Clifford Chance, the All-Star team conjured strategies, reviewed testimonies and wrote statements based upon the Rules of Procedure and Evidence established by The Assembly of States Parties for the ICC.

“This competition was tremendously challenging,” said Kahn.  “Students must not only prepare an argument on a legal topic and present it in public, but they must be prepared to address the arguments being made by the students on the opposing team.  They must also respond, as they are speaking, to questions from the ‘judges’ who are allowed to interrupt and challenge the students on the points they are making.”

Coach Kahn added, “[The students] have a chance to not only learn, but think about the subject matter in a way that is not normally available in a classroom setting.”

While in the Netherlands, the NYC All-Stars had the chance to play tourist during their down time.  Lesser and her chaperones took the students on a Hague City tour, an Amsterdam city trip that included a visit to the Ann Frank House and to a dinner reception thrown by the Mayor of The Hague.  And to celebrate their victory, the student attorneys attended a dance party held in their honor at a local Dutch school.

Will this first International Moot Court competition victory yield New York City’s future trial lawyers?  The answer is unclear, but both Lesser and Kahn said they want the participants to take away much more loftier lessons from the experience.

“Will it inspire them to become litigators?  I don’t know,” said Kahn.  “But I hope it will inspire them to find work they can be passionate about and to appreciate an international and U.S. legal system that works to protect and grant opportunity to all.”

Added Lesser, “Our goal is for all of our kids to have an interest in the law, the legal process, the fundamental values that they are based upon . . . for kids to be college and career ready.”

Here’s a list of the NYC students who participated and the schools from which they hail:

Mishal Ayaz, John Bowne High School
Rose Balzano, James Madison High School
Shannika Campbell, Harry S Truman High School
Tyler Deharrte, Cobble Hill School of American Studies
Rafael Henriquez, Bronx High School of Science
Benjamin Hoffman, High School of American Studies at Lehman College
Alban Hoxha, Herbert H. Lehman High School
Catrina Livermore, Forest Hills High School
Christopher Llego, Sheepshead Bay High School
Juan Lopez, Flushing High School
Katherine Mallary, High School of American Studies at Lehman College
Tiana Quattruci, Herbert H. Lehman High School
Daniel Pena, Forest Hills High School
Gabriel Pariente, James Madison High School
Sophia Weinstock, Susan E. Wagner High School
Peiran Zhang, Francis Lewis High School

Return to top of page.

Posted in Featured | Leave a comment

CTE Participants

In Their Own Words
Students, Department Officials and other CTE participants give their take on the current state of the industry

Editor’s Note: In this edition of In Their Own Words, CTE Student Advisory Committee Chair Ivana Nunez talks about her personal experiences serving with the group, the overall purpose of the DOE-created entity and why she feels the Student Advisory Council is an important part of the CTE improvement process.

 Since its creation, the Career and Technical Education Advisory Commitee has worked with employers, colleges, schools, principals, assistant principals and teachers to improve the learning experience for CTE students. Until the 2010-11 school year, however, one important piece of the puzzle was missing: input from the students themselves.

The CTE Student Advisory Committee came into existence to fill this void. Through the committee, students voice their opinion on what works in the CTE system and what needed improvement in their CTE high schools.

The Student Advisory Committee has three major functions:

  • To incorporate student voices and recommendations into the work of the CTE Advisory Council
  • To gain additional insight into students’ views and needs concerning the delivery of CTE programs of study at the secondary level and postsecondary readiness
  • To foster student participation in advocacy and leadership activities of the CTE Council and its industry commissions

The Committee is comprised of two representatives from each CTE high school, a junior and a senior, nominated by principals from among active members of the school’s student government or CTE student leadership. (In the case of schools that don’t yet have a full complement of classes, students are selected from the first two classes.)

Each representative serves a one year term, and can be re-nominated. Advisory Council Members, school/DOE staff and teachers are welcome to attend meetings but may only participate in the committee as observers. The group meets between two and four times a year, most recently in February at the New York Historical Society.

I became involved with the Student Advisory Committee as facilitator and Chair, through my participation in the Success Via Apprenticeship (SVA) program. SVA is a partnership between the Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers that provides CTE graduates the opportunity to gain three years of on-the-job training and two years of teaching experience in a technical field, along with college credits and compensation.

Currently, I am in my third year, working as an electrical installation teacher/apprentice. Through the Committee, I have enjoyed the opportunity to develop my leadership skills while working with some of the brightest and most committed CTE students in the City.

In the first year of the Committee’s existence, we surveyed participating students about what influenced them to choose their current school. We found that many students wished they’d had more information about CTE programs during the selection process.  Students also were asked where they felt CTE schools were lacking, and identified three areas: recruitment, outreach and information and industry involvement.

After all the information was collected, CTE Advisory Council Chair Jack Powers presented the findings to the Council in an effort to show what they believed were the immediate needs of CTE schools. Council members were impressed with what they saw, realizing the importance of the CTE Student Advisory Committee—specifically, its capacity to help the Council grasp perspectives that they might have missed and ones that only students can see.  We are currently in the process of using the students’ input to create more informational resources for future students and parents, and to strengthen ties to employers in key industries with CTE programs.

The CTE Student Advisory Committee serves both to facilitate student input in the citywide discussion around CTE, and to help build community within CTE by bringing together committed and ambitious students from many different programs and schools. I am very proud of our work, especially the ability to include student voices in the process of helping CTE schools excel.

Return to top of page.

Posted in In Their Own Words | Leave a comment

What Is Being Said

CTE Digest is a brief rundown of local and national stories and reports concerns concerning career and technical education in New York City and beyond. If you see a feature that you’d like to share with the CTE community in New York City, please let us know by emailing Jevon Williams of the Office of Postsecondary Readiness atjwilliams35@schools.nyc.gov.
Not all College Degrees are Created Equal (Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, February 2012)

  • Acclaimed economists Anthony Carnevale, Ban Cheah and Jeff Strohl examine which college majors are most strongly correlated with stable employment and higher earnings after graduation.

A New Push For Vocational Education in Chicago and the U.S. (Chicago magazine, February 2012)

  • Due to positive developments in Chicago-based CTE programs, the Mayor’s office announced a $479 million plan for expanding and adding to the city’s “College to Careers” vocational program. (The influential “Pathways to Prosperity” report [Harvard School of Education, 2011] is cited.)

Stoking Students’ Fascination With Fashion (New York Times, 2/2/12)

  • Acclaimed designer Betsey Johnson visited with students at the High School of Fashion Industries on Feb. 1.

With Data Backing Smaller High Schools, City’s Larger Ones Fret Over Their Fate(New York Times, 2/2/12)

  • Times writer Winnie Hu examines whether larger schools can survive in the new political climate of smaller schools.

CTE High Schools Fall Short on Performance, PA Says (NY1, 1/30/12)

  • The Office of the Public Advocate highlights challenges facing selected CTE high schools in New York City.

School Improves With Help of Grant Money It May Lose (New York Times, 1/27/12)

  • In the last school year, Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School utilized federal grant money to achieve striking improvements to the already unique program.

City Students at Small Public High Schools Are More Likely to Graduate, Study Says(New York Times, 1/26/12)

  • A new study presents the success of small schools, noting career and college as a critical element to this success.

Hollege? Holleer? What Matters Are Mentors (New York Times, 1/24/12)

  • Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH) Principal Rashid Davis advocates for the value of college and career ready education, using his school as an example.

Low scoring but not closing, CTE school showcases job training (Gotham Schools, 12/14/11)

  • This Gotham Schools feature from December highlights the achievements of the students at the High School for Graphic Communication Arts students

Return to top of page.

Posted in CTE Digest | Leave a comment