Envisioning Career Technical Education as a Platform for Student Empowerment
Career Technical Education (CTE) has emerged as a promising platform to improve educational preparation for students underrepresented in the sciences. Despite its potential, funding inequalities, lack of teacher preparation, and inadequate industry connections affect the quality of CTE programs. This paper describes Teachers and Students for Community Oriented Research and Education (TSCORE), a community-university partnership that focuses on CTE health science teachers and provides pedagogical tools, knowledge, and connections needed to bring local, cutting-edge health disparities research into classrooms. Framed in critical pedagogy, TSCORE delivers 1) teacher empowerment, 2) implementation support, and 3) student conscientization. Teachers receive 85 hours of professional development on health disparities, project based learning, and curriculum development. Pedagogical support is provided during the year as teachers use newly created curricular units to guide students in inquiry that problematizes the state of health in their communities and engages them in developing community-based interventions to improve health outcomes for their people. TSCORE challenges the academic-vocational divide by moving past views of CTE as a job training platform for entry level positions and invites students to experience first-hand how a career in science and research can have a positive impact on the health of their communities.