Is Career and Technical Education Just Enjoying Its 15 Minutes of Fame?

Over the past couple years, career and technical education has garnered a lot of attention. Politico reported
that 49 states and Washington, DC, enacted 241 career
and technical education–related laws, executive
actions, and budget provisions in 2017.1 The National
Governors Association has tagged career and technical
education as one of its 12 priorities, and Jobs for the
Future has observed that career and technical education “has become the ‘next best thing’ in high school
reform.”2 A 2018 AEI study found that career and technical education was the only education issue a majority
of gubernatorial candidates supported.3 Meanwhile, a
2018 analysis reported that the number of high school
students concentrating in career education rose
22 percent, to 3.6 million, during the past decade.4
All this raises a big question, given education’s long
experience with fads and shifting sentiment: Is the boom
in career and technical education one more fad, or does
it reflect something more substantial? That answer matters for how much attention this push deserves from
educators, parents, and policymakers.
In a stab at addressing this question, we examined the
media attention devoted to career and technical education over the past two decades—and how that compares
to the attention devoted to other… (Read the full report)