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Career and Technical Education Offers In-Demand Program

Career and Technical Education Offers In-Demand Program

Posted: July 26, 2012

A new teacher-preparation program will be offered in fall 2012. Family and consumer sciences education, housed in the Career and Technical Education Department, will offer initial New York State K–12 teacher certification to its graduates.

"Family and consumer science education is mandated for all public school students who complete eighth grade," said John Popovich, associate professor and chair of career and technical education (CTE). “But there are few programs like this in New York State."

Judith Davis, lecturer and student-teaching coordinator for CTE, retired from a career teaching family and consumer science (FACS) education with the Buffalo Public Schools. "Because there are so few FACS teacher-preparation programs in this field," she said, "there are no candidates to take the place of retiring family and consumer science teachers."

Graduates of the new program will have initial certification to teach both the mandated middle-school program and high-school courses, which must be taught by teachers certified in FACS. Those courses are included in high-school course sequences in early childhood and childhood development; fashion and textile programs; and culinary arts. FACS graduates will also be able to teach personal financial management courses.

Popovich, a passionate, longtime advocate of career and technical education, said, "These programs fall under the CTE umbrella, which includes the trade and technical teacher-preparation programs we already offer." The diversity of those programs is reflected in the fall 2012 student-teaching placements in automotive technology, cosmetology, culinary arts, and family and consumer science. A student preparing to teach radiology technology will do her student teaching at Niagara County Community College.

"What’s different about our new program is that it’s a four-year program that offers a bachelor’s degree and initial certification to teach in middle and high school," said Davis.

According to the New York State Education Department, "Family and Consumer Sciences Education empowers individuals and families across the life span to manage the challenges of living and working in a diverse global society. The unique focus is on families, work, and their interrelationships."

According to Davis, the overarching goal for FACS teachers is to teach students to think constructively, make sound decisions, solve problems, and manage resources using a hands-on approach.

Family and consumer sciences education is delivered through diverse course offerings that can be arranged in a variety of pathways. In foods and nutrition courses, for example, students may learn how to stretch a grocery budget and to make wise, healthy choices at the grocery store. Courses in early childhood equip students with the child-care skills to work at daycare centers, and develop parenting skills. "Children don’t always learn these skills at home," Davis said.

"For many students," said Popovich, "these courses introduce students to career paths. They may develop an interest in restaurant or retail work." He said that high-school graduation rates in the Buffalo Public Schools are much higher for students who complete CTE sequences than for students taking other academic routes, and many CTE students go on to post-secondary education.

Both Davis and Popovich anticipate changes in the kinds of high-school diplomas that students can earn in New York State. "Right now," said Davis, "students must get a Regents diploma by being successful on a minimum of five Regents exams and fulfilling credit requirements. We expect high-school students to have more choices soon, and our program’s graduates will be among the few who will be prepared to teach the expanded course offerings.”

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