Spokane North Notes
A weekly bulletin of the Spokane-North Rotary Club
January 12, 2015
Editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
Photo: Eric Johnson
Program coordinator: Jim Minkler
               No meeting: The club will not meet Jan. 19 in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday.  Do attend, and consider bringing a guest, Jan. 26, when the scheduled speaker is Spokane Symphony Conductor Eckhart Preu.
               A second King speech: While the “I Have a Dream” MLK speech still resonates, former Rotary International President Rick King will give a talk Thursday, Feb. 26, at the Red Lion Inn at the Park.  Our club has committed to one table of eight, said Melody Farance, who added that just three club spots are reserved so far.  Tickets are $40 each until Jan. 15, then $50.  Call Suzy at the Rotary office, 534-8998 and let Melody Farance know you will attend.
               Fund-raising tasks: Coordinator Jodi Harland asks all club members to think about how they can help with the “Dine Out for Kids Spokane” fund raiser, our major effort to subsidize projects and programs at Holmes Elementary School.  To succeed, she said, everyone needs to be involved.  Goal is $12,000 to $15,000.  The conversation will continue Jan. 26.
New programs make the ‘3 R’s’ so old school
               While stem cell therapies are leading new medical developments, it’s the other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and changes in career and technical education (CTE) that are breaking new ground in middle and high school education.
               Describing the new directions at the Jan. 12 meeting was Christi Harter, CTE director for Spokane Public Schools, a post she has held since last July.
               Previously Dr. Harter was coordinator of District 81’s K-12 options and innovative programs.  She worked five years in career and technical education for SPS before leaving to be STEM director in San Mateo County, Calif., for a few years.
              Years ago, she said, career education pretty much meant home ec for girls and auto shop for boys.  Now just listing the CTE courses covers two pages, single-spaced -- a total of 57 courses in five departments.
              The wide-range of offerings includes computer applications, genomic research, office job training, marketing, digital game design, horticulture and foods and fitness.
              “Cross-crediting” possibilities help high school students earn college credits, especially toward completion of a technical 2-year or 4-year college degree.
              Harter said CTE challenges include training enough teachers and integrating the programs with other science class requirements for high school students.
              As questions brought out, many CTE courses are still treated as electives, and compete for time and attention with band, choir, sports and other programs.  The idea is to avoid having too many CTE classes at “zero hour” (before regular classes) or after school, although it is helpful to have some at these times to provide greater access to students who cannot attend during the regular five-period-day.
              Collaboration is a key to success for CTE programs as is evident with the Spokane Area Professional Technical Advisory Council (SAPTAC) involving nine different area school districts that meet regularly to share information about respective curriculum offerings to provide continuity. Other partners include Greater Spokane Incorporated workforce development members to make sure graduates are prepared to enter aeronautics, medical-related, or other burgeoning fields.  Business and industry members serve on advisory committees for the CTE programs.  Other important collaboration includes articulations for college credit through Tech Prep agreements with the Community Colleges of Spokane.
              Club members with an interest are asked to join CTE advisory committees, which try to ensure that current industry standards and future directions are represented in the class offerings.
              The concepts dip to the elementary level, Harter said, noting that all 3rd grade students get a taste of engineering at the Mobius Science Center. 
              The CTE and STEM concepts are introduced to all middle-school students who, by grade 8, are asked to pick “personal pathways” for what classes they want in high school.
              Asked about national comparisons, Harter said “there is no nationally defined CTE or STEM education.  Us (Spokane schools) taking a K-12 initiative is unique across the nation.  And Spokane may be the only city in the country offering computer science at the middle school level.”
              Harter said even in tech-obsessed San Mateo County in northern California (Oracle’s home office “was across the street”), only two high schools had STEM.
              Many of the CTC and STEM concepts will be discussed in the Washington Legislature, which is trying to redefine basic education and appease voters who approved a smaller-class-size initiative last fall.  Funding all of the demands and satisfying all of the critics may take decisions as innovative as some of the STEM and CTE classes themselves.