In a recent meeting of the V.I. Career and Technical Board, members were vocal about pivotal matters surrounding the vocational and technical education sphere in the territory, even in the absence of a quorum for most of the session.
Dr. Monique Faulkner, who serves as the state director for Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the Department of Education, informed the CTE board about the initiation of a program to standardize the career and technical education syllabus.
Senator Genevieve Whitaker had previously voiced concerns over the exclusion of the CTE board in crucial decision-making exercises related to educational policies in the technical sector. To this, Dr. Faulkner assured board members of their and the Board of Education’s involvement in this curricular overhaul. Emphasizing the nearing contract acquisition for the curriculum standardization, Dr. Faulkner highlighted the significance of unified efforts. “It’s vital for all stakeholders to join forces and provide direction, ensuring the project aligns with our collective vision,” she commented.
CTE Board Chair, Joane Murphy, raised queries about the expected timeline for the new curriculum’s rollout. Dr. Faulkner responded with an anticipated launch by the start of “the upcoming academic year.” This standardized curriculum aims to offer consistent learning experiences across different institutions in the territory. Consequently, transitioning students will have a seamless educational experience, equipped with the foundational knowledge essential for higher education.
Joane Murphy expressed her anticipation, stating, “This initiative is indeed promising.”
Addressing apprenticeship schemes, Board Secretary Dr. Suzanne Magras shared that among the 38 companies partaking in the apprenticeship initiative, 11 have registered apprenticeships. She remarked, “There’s a visible uptrend in participation, and even if the pace isn’t ideal, progress is consistent.” Yet, the ‘Skills For Today’ initiative, known for entirely funding apprentice salaries for a year, is nearing its conclusion. This development is causing apprehensions among partnering companies regarding the program’s sustainability without wage support. Dr. Magras hinted at a potential funding alternative, pledging to explore this avenue further.
The potential of apprenticeships as a means to prepare instructors in the career and technical domain became a talking point. Chairwoman Murphy proposed the idea of reallocating funds earmarked for D.O.E.’s vacant roles towards an apprenticeship scheme for budding CTE tutors. Dr. Faulkner, however, believed that experienced professionals might prefer more adaptive teaching methods. “Established professionals often seek flexibility. They might not wish to be tethered to a classroom and would rather engage on a need basis,” she opined.
The conversation then gravitated towards the formulation of a state plan for CTE. Although not obligatory, both Dr. Faulkner and Ms. Murphy concurred on its desirability. Dr. Faulkner did, however, caution about the rigorous stipulations from the Division of Academic and Technical Education making it a formidable endeavor. Undeterred, Ms. Murphy pledged the CTE Board’s full support, recognizing the importance of community dialogues to further this mission.
The meeting eventually concluded following the late arrival of several board members, which finally established a quorum, allowing for the ratification of pending minutes.