School district's Career Technical Education programs are essential

To the Editor:

Ari Klein’s September column, Needed: more students taking career technical classes, has a lot to say about the current status of the Career Technical Education (CTE) Consortium, and skilled labor in general. CH-UH is the host district of the consortium, so CH-UH has both the need and responsibility to guide the CTE program. With the completion of renovation to Heights High there is a new energy about CTE.

Here are some of the things that I believe the participating school districts got right in creating that positive energy:

They got it right when they listened three to four years ago when the community wanted to be involved in the planning of the new high school for CH-UH. This led to the formation of several working groups during the 2013–14 school year. One of these working groups was to support CTE. This group held monthly meetings as well as other sessions and, in the 2014–15 school year, produced a document that was submitted to the superintendent and the Board of Education. It was a revised hierarchy and flow chart for the entire CTE program. This group has since transformed itself from a working group to an advocacy group that is recognized by the district. The person who has chaired the group from the beginning and was primary factor in the successful completion of this document was Malia Lewis, who is now a candidate for the Board of Education.

They got it right when they went outside [the] CH-UH pool and selected Brad Callender in the summer of 2015 as the lead for the CTE program. Callender brought with him what had been missing from the leader of this program, experience. Callender’s experience with local, regional and state issues is extensive. His ability to navigate these issues is a primary reason that the Bedford and Maple Heights districts were added to the consortium.

They got it right when they were willing to add programs. Adding the firefighting program has quickly turned into a success. As the 2017–18 school year progresses, and the addition of Bedford and Maple Heights [districts] settles in, there will probably be a review of offerings to help maximize potential for other programs.

Here are some things I think the CTE program itself got right:

This summer, two students from Clinical Health Careers and instructor Nancy Ballou traveled to a national competition. What an experience for these two students to compete head-to-head with some of the best in the country.

Both the Criminal Justice and the Automotive Technology programs have built a tradition for students to earn meaningful certificates in these fields and have job opportunities available upon graduation.

Other programs, such as Cosmetology, Computer Networking Technology, and Pharmacy Technician, aid the student in [the] process of taking the state or manufacturer’s exam. In this structure, teaching for the test seems to make sense.

I encourage anyone interested to look at the CH-UH district website ( to see the list [of CTE programs] that ranges from Audio Engineering to Family Consumer Sciences, from Marketing Management to Graphic Imaging Technology.

Some of these jobs have the stigma that they are physically hard to perform, so they are ignored or looked down on. While the physically demanding portion may be true for some offerings, there are also benefits to this hard work. These programs can start a career path that helps students find the best fit for life. I would fall into that category. They can help a student by giving them a program they can relate to and show enthusiasm for to inspire them to graduate.

As Klein pointed out, most of these job offerings are not easily outsourced, as they need [to be] performed at the local level. He can’t get his steps fixed by an online retailer. You probably aren’t going to get your car serviced by a tech in a different country. Nothing beats sitting at the barbershop that is at your corner. And when there is a need for fire/EMS help, you want a well-trained professional as quick and close to you as possible. These are real opportunities that are here and are immediate.

Please have a look and see if there is a good fit for a student you know so we can see these programs grow. That way, Ari Klein has a better chance to get his steps fixed, and we have a chance for a better community.

Bob Henninge

Bob Henninge
Cleveland Heights

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Volume 10, Issue 10, Posted 10:56 AM, 10.23.2017