Training for the Modern World

CTE no longer boomers’ vocational school


LHS students represent a few of the Career Technical programs.

Mykenzi Murray , Art Director

LHS Seniors Bryce Rousche and Adam Nebergall are part of the Systems Tech program.

Today’s career technical education programs in America are not vocational schools back in the day. In fact, CTE is one of the most important components of the modern American education system.

“CT programs exist because they offer endless possibilities through hands-on education,” said Anthony Knickerbocker, Associate Principal of Lancaster High School’s Career Tech program.

Statistics show that 95% of CTE students graduate from high school which is 10% higher than the national average. According to Applied Educational Systems, one of the reasons for the high graduation rate is that CTE helps prevent students who don’t well in traditional classrooms from falling through the cracks.

This is not to say that CTE students are lazy, unmotivated, or not smart enough for college. On the contrary, statistics show that 91% of all high school graduates who earned two or three CTE credits then went onto post-secondary education (AES2019).  Knickerbocker agreed.

“The truth is the curriculum and what we teach aligns so well with colleges, every program at the high school level offers college credit,” he said.

One misconception about CTEis that this pathway leads to careers with low paying wages. This is false, according to Jamie Engel, executive director of career and technical education for the Ingham Intermediate School District in Michigan.

Engel told the Lansing State Journal, “If you look at many of the high-demand, high-wage jobs that are going unfilled, you will see positions in information technology, healthcare, business, and manufacturing.”

LHS juniors, Brooklyn Holiday and Taylor Koch are part of the Cosmetology program.

CTE programs put students on an accelerated path to earn their degree or credentials so that they begin working sooner. Going which lists potential income for plumbers at $65,000and Web developers with a projected income of $61,000, for example.

In the past, CTE programs struggled with the misnomer that “CTE students were the dumb kids by their peers and ill-informed educational pundits” as reported by Chris Zook, in the 2019 article, Why Is Career &Technical Education So Important? Zook reports that 70% of CTE students say that their program helped them earn better grades.

“With 76 million students enrolled in American schools, that means 11.3% say CTE helped them academically,” writes Zook.

“ . . . that’s an enormous percentage. That means the traditional education experience doesn’t work in some way for 11.3% of students who go through the system.”

All things considered, for today’s students, one size does not fit all when it comes to high school education.  CTE programs are a necessary and desired component in the modern world.

“CT programs provide a pathway to internships, employment, 2-year schools, and 4-year schools. We exist because the opportunities we provide are endless,” said Knickerbocker.

CTE is part of what modern education looks like in a progressing world.

Sean Brentlinger and Simon Voight are part of the LHS Carpentry and Mechanical Electrical Plumbing programs, respectively.