As of Tuesday, October 10, 2017
DALLAS — Exactly 20 years ago, during the 1997-98 school year Dallas High School offered seven programs that would now be called “career and technical education.”
Career and technical education, or CTE, teaches students skills in trades – whether that be agriculture, computer science, business or engineering — and gives them experience like what they would have on the job.
Tim Ray, a former agriculture teacher at DHS, has spent the last eight months working with an advisory group of citizens and business owners rebuilding the school’s CTE program offering to the 1997-98 level.
They are almost there: in the 2017-18 school year, DHS has six approved programs in agriculture, business, culinary, engineering, visual media arts and health sciences.
“We’ve got kids in every one of them,” Ray said during a report at a joint meeting of the Dallas School Board and Dallas City Council on Monday.
He said the programs are designed to emphasize three necessary components of education: academic knowledge, developing technical skills, and teaching what he calls “professional skills” — being on time, taking pride in work, communicating well and being able to work on team.
This year, 500 to 550 students, including some from Morrison Campus Alternative School, will enroll in the six programs, compared to 250 students last year participating in the three available programs.
“We’ve doubled the opportunities and number of students taking advantage of those opportunities,” Ray said.
Three of the programs, engineering, business and health sciences, are offered through a unique relationship with Chemeketa Community College, Ray said. College instructors are teaching the classes at the high school, giving students high school and college credit – for $25 a class.
Ray said he has a larger goal in mind: Economic development.
A.J. Foscoli, the city’s economic development director is the vice chairman of the program advisory committee. He said he can pitch the CTE programs as a selling point to prospective employers and as a way for business already here to keep a stable work force.
“I truly believe if we build a skilled workforce, industry will come find us,” Ray said. “Dallas has all the infrastructure that everybody else has. A.J. is going to do out and find them and show them all the benefits we have. I believe by doing these things, we will do that. Kids don’t have to cross the river to make a living wage.”