The emergence of the global knowledge economy has placed new and challenging demands on American education. In order to prepare American students for 21st century jobs in this knowledge economy, and to deepen their engagement in the rigorous classwork that is called for, we need to ensure that our secondary and post-secondary educational institutions provide high-quality Career and Technical Education (CTE).
This is no easy task. We must overcome the legacy of past vocational education programs, which too often tracked students from working families and students of color into low-wage, unskilled jobs bereft of opportunities for economic and social improvement. In this context, CTE must bring forward and update the most successful aspects of the vocational education tradition, which in its era prepared students for work in industrial and agricultural settings, and create a new, inclusive approach that prepares young people for the 21st century economy. Furthermore, we must correct the short-sighted, reactive elimination of all education for work and careers that developed in response to that legacy, with its edict that all high school should be purely academic and college preparatory. And we will need to do the hard work of bringing together multiple stakeholders -- government and civil society, secondary and post-secondary educational institutions, business and labor, school, community and industry -- all in one common effort to develop and disseminate the high-quality Career and Technical Education that none of these constituencies can produce on its own.