The American Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, has announced the creation of a five-city compact established to support career and technical educational (CTE) pathways between high schools, well-paid jobs, and higher education.
Modeled after New York City’s career and technical education programs, the effort, called “Promising Pathways,” is part of the AFT Innovation Fund and will give around $500,000 in support of the five local AFT chapters’ work. The affiliate cities are: Peoria, Ill.; Pittsburgh; San Francisco; Miami, and New York City.
In New York City, the union, Mayor Bill de Blasio, AFT President Randi Weingarten, and Mayor Jim Ardis of Peoria joined together to discuss the partnership, according to WCBS-TV’s Rich Lamb. The AFT plus educators, city leaders and officials of the five cities signed an agreement and pledged to establish paths for students that will lead to career education and, finally, the best jobs in the community.
“Career and technical education opens doors,” de Blasio said. “These are cutting-edge programs in fast-growing fields like tech, life sciences and modern manufacturing that prepare young people for college and strong careers. We’re making investments in New York City that link our schools and workforce development programs directly with employers to make sure we are investing in the skills and jobs of tomorrow. We applaud the AFT and the United Federation of Teachers for bringing educators and the private sector together to invest in our young people’s future.”
The Associated Press’ Lejla Sarcevic writes that de Blasio acknowledged that programs like this are an important step toward wage equality.
“If we’re going to address income inequality we’re not going to do it with minimum wage jobs,” he said. “We’re going to do it by getting more and more people to the middle class.”
Weingarten hopes this model will succeed and, eventually, be presented in Washington for federal government support. And, in fact, US Secretary for Education Arne Duncan tweeted that he was thankful to the AFT for launching “Promising Pathways.”
The official AFT press release includes a quote from Weingarten:
“CTE teachers help students develop the ability to collaborate, communicate, solve problems, think critically and apply their knowledge. These are the skills kids need to thrive in our fast-changing world,” she said.
Peoria Federation of Teachers President Jeffrey Adkins-Dutro noted that teachers unions and the business community are not often on the same team, but they are in Peoria. Both of these sectors want and will benefit from high-quality CTE measure for young people in their city.
Dade County in Florida already has many students who graduate and go directly into the workplace. United Teachers of Dade President Fedrick Ingram said that providing certification or credentials for graduates and ensuring as many career and technical education opportunities as possible to those new to the workplace are the job of the city’s educators and businessmen.