De Blasio lauds CTE programs at union event, saying city will support their growth

Mayor Bill de Blasio and UFT president Michael Mulgrew praised the city’s career and technical education programs Thursday, hinting that more support for them was on the way.

The occasion was the launch of an American Federation of Teachers program in four other cities that will use New York City’s partnerships between schools and industries as a model. Mulgrew also announced the start of four new “boot camps” for about 100 New York City teachers, which will include sessions run by Adobe and Apple meant to give teachers the training they need to expand career and technical programs.

“I’m very, very proud that New York City is being used as a model here for this effort,” de Blasio said. “One hundred and twenty thousand kids each year are touched by our CTE programs,” he added, “and we are going to strengthen them and we are going to make them available to even more.”

The city has more than 300 career and technical education programs, which grew in number under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. According to a 2013 city report, 28 CTE-focused high schools opened between 2002 and 2013, while six of the nine high schools that opened in 2014 included CTE programs. Some job training programs shrunk or disappeared during those years as the city closed large, low-performing high schools and cut school budgets during the recession.

Chancellor Carmen Fariña said last month that supporting CTE programs was among her top three priorities, and that the effort would soon be getting a new leader in the education department. On Thursday, de Blasio didn’t offer any additional specifics but mentioned Bronx Design and Construction Academy — which opened in 2011 and offers classes in architectural drafting and more traditional CTE programs like plumbing and carpentry — and the High School of Fashion Industries as schools preparing students well for local jobs.

But even as officials held up the programs as a national model, local principals said there is lots of room for improvement. Deno Charalambous, the longtime principal of Aviation High School, said what the schools needed most was financial support.

“Some of the CTE schools are doing a great job, and try very hard, but we’re at a breaking point,” he told Mulgrew during the press conference. His school’s budget has flatlined, and next year’s allocation looks similar, he said after the event.

“I feel no support from the city at all,” Charalambous said.

Mulgrew said he understood principals’ concerns.

“As you heard the mayor here today say, the city is now completely behind making these CTE programs grow,” Mulgrew said.

“Now, it’s time to get them the proper funding,” he added. “We are absolutely in conversations to make sure you get what you need to run your programs.”