What used to be referred to as vocational education has come a long way. Phoenix Union High School District has 29 programs as varied as business operations, sports and entertainment marketing, web design, law enforcement, early childhood education, engineering, computer/networking technology and pharmacy support services.
Almost 9,000 PUHSD students have taken a Career/Technical Education (CTE) course, including a freshman class, CTE 1, where students explore a variety of careers, develop an Education Career Action Plan (ECAP) and receive Internet Safety Training and technology literacy training.
“There is a myth that CTE programs are for students not going to college,” says Craig Pletenik, Community Relations manager for PUHSD. “In fact, the percentage of CTE students entering post-secondary schools is 13 percent higher than non-CTE students.”
Pletenik adds that nearly 50 percent of all Dual Enrollment (earning college credit) opportunities at Phoenix Union are through CTE programs. CTE students score significantly higher in AIMS reading, writing and math than other PUHSD students.
Students enrolled in a CTE program had a 99 percent graduation rate in 2012-13. CTE graduates are 10-15 percent more likely to be in the labor force and earn nearly 10 percent more than academic program graduates, Pletenik points out.
As an example, three Metro Tech students and one North student earned scholarships, and one a possible job offer, at the Careers in Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) State Finals, held March 22. Ana Osuna of Metro Tech won a $20,000 scholarship to the Cordon Bleu. Metro Tech’s Rebecca Estrada and Bryan Sanchez also won scholarships.
North High’s Leonel Sosa won a $3,000 scholarship, and a contingency offer of a job at the Kierland Westin Hotel. This was a culmination of two years of work for these students.
The students had a preliminary round, which required them to produce a French omelet and an intensive knife-skill cucumber vegetable-ring salad. In the next round the students were required to make a common French dish, Chicken Chasseur, with tourné potatoes, and a pan tarragon mushroom sauce. They prepared a dessert of French crepes, pastry cream, chocolate sauce and strawberries. The students were scored on presentation, quality, cooking skills, taste, and sanitation.
To learn more about PUHSD’s Career and Technical Education programs, visit www.phoenixunion.org/cte.