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Poco Windy #9 CTE and Yazzie-Martinez Part 2: Possible Solutions

The 2020 New Mexico Legislature, now in session, continues to deal with the aftermath of the Yazzie-Martinez lawsuit decision rendered in 2018 by a New Mexico District Court. Several bills, including HB 136, HB 139, and HB 140 addressing suit issues, are making their way through the session, the start of a long-term Yazzie solution. Can we this time really turn history around? 

Here are several other suggestions to consider that just might increase CTE participation and completion by Yazzie-Martinez defendant youth in New Mexico public and tribal schools.

One, change the high school post-graduation message. Too often, the message continues to be to attend college when college only means a four-year university. That somehow, trade schools, two-year college CTE programs, and CTE/vocational training of any kind aren’t as good or doesn’t have the same status as the university degree. And, once over, that’s it. No more education or training. Period. Not all kids are Shakespeare and calculus oriented. The new message is that post-secondary training/education is necessary for everyone, and all types are valued, including CTE. Whether it’s through the military, by industry, or at home in tribal enterprises, the need for education and training never ends. High school graduation or earning a GED is not the end. We should preach the new message to all kids, their parents, grandparents, or foster parents, from elementary school on up. CTE is the path to middle-skill, high paying jobs in today’s world of work.

Two, seriously examine who participates in CTE programs. Broaden student participation. Research suggests that historically, it’s been more boys rather than girls. Further, that CTE helps high schools improve their graduation rates. In schools where Native students are not the majority, many Native students receive insufficient encouragement to enroll in CTE programs. Too often, as we’ve stated before, it’s also the place for throwaway kids - CTE as the classroom of last resort, the dumping ground, rather than being up there in status with AP and honors classes. It should be a continuing opportunity for all kids. Too, the new demographics CTE should include more girls, more Native and Hispanic students, more students with various learning challenges, supported by continuing attention, support services, and constant encouragement.

Three, change secondary school counseling. Change who enters the secondary school counseling profession - how they get there and are trained. For example, this writer approaching fifty years of education experience in New Mexico struggles as do a number of my current and former colleagues, to think of many Native American high school counselors we’ve seen and/or worked with. There are undoubtedly such in New Mexico. But not enough. Moreover, with the vast number of single-parent families, the growing amount of trauma that kids sadly have in their background, and the resulting lack of stability in their lives, the nature of school counseling has changed dramatically. Counselor training has not. For decades, many, too many HS counselors have trained to be passive (sit in the office with the sign on the door waiting for kids to come to them) rather than active, repeatedly seeking them out through different events and formats. They have narrowly focused on kids in trouble or on kids from higher-income families, already four-year university oriented (many of whom will succeed anyway). Counselor training has not kept pace. Counselors are insufficiently trained in CTE advisement, which by the way, may also be true of two-year college advisors. The recruiting and training of school counselors need to reflect actual and increasingly changing student demographics, to include cultural components, varied career-ready program components, and how to better partner with school support staff such as Tribal school liaison staff and support programs such as Johnson-O’Malley. The current secondary school counseling model needs to change.

Even middle school counselors can play an important and active role by talking to all students as early as sixth grade about their emerging gifts. This might include working through value sorting and temperament readings/activities that help kids identify and express factors they believe to be important. This can lead to developing future goals around those insights for all kids. Again, the current secondary school counseling model needs to change.

The rest of the CTE equation applying to Yazzie-Martinez has been addressed in earlier education impact blogs - increase investment in CTE. Create training partnerships and new models with industry, regional education cooperatives, and two-year colleges. Early results of such approaches are evident. In this region, Mescalero High School already demonstrated that Native students can indeed excel at CTE with award-winning dual-credit high school students enrolled in wind energy and cybersecurity programs, posting the most significant student numbers of all types of schools in central New Mexico. Improved CTE is one of the numerous Yazzie-Martinez solutions. Let’s get going!

This the home of Region 9 CTE. Thanks for dropping by.

James Miller
(575) 937-2873

By James Miller