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Secretary Duncan and Harvard Scholars Showcase Benefits of CTE

On Wednesday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan referred to CTE as the “neglected stepchild of education reform” and expressed an urgent need to change this perception. Duncan’s remarks were prompted by the release of Pathways to Prosperity, a major report suggesting a need for increased high-quality career technical education (CTE). This is the first time that Duncan has delivered a speech focused primarily on CTE.

The release of Pathways to Prosperity, in addition to Duncan’s remarks at the event, brings to light the tremendous role that CTE plays in providing students with viable pathways to success.

The report, written by scholars from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Pathways to Prosperity Project, describes a need for more career counseling, high-quality career education, apprenticeship programs, and two-year degree and certificate programs as viable pathways to solid careers. The authors suggest giving students more choices beginning in middle school, including opportunities to link academics with work experiences, so that students can more successfully pursue college or career paths that do not necessarily result in a bachelor’s degree. 

The report also advocates for a decreased focus on classroom-based academics and a greater emphasis on work-based learning. Pathways to Prosperity proposes the development of a comprehensive pathways network, including a three-part plan to increase the value and effectiveness of CTE across the United States:

1)     Development of a broader vision of school reform with less emphasis on four-year degree attainment

2)     Expanded role of employers in providing more work-based opportunities for students and more jobs related to students’ programs of study

3)     Development of a new “social compact” between society and young people with a goal of equipping young adults with the education and experience needed to lead a successful adult life

Both Duncan’s remarks and Harvard’s Pathways to Prosperity report increase the visibility of CTE as a powerful pathway to student success.

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