Through the Years
1862 - By the so-called Morrill Act, the United States government donates portions of the public lands to each state as a permanent endowment for a college that will emphasize the study of agriculture and the so-called mechanical arts. Commonly referred to as A. & M. schools, these will also be known as land grant colleges.
1870 - The National Education Association is founded with the conviction that education must be considered a science and that educators deserve the status of professionals who earn rewards commensurate to their special expertise.
1872 - Iowa State College offers the first regular college courses in housekeeping. Of course, only female students are eligible for these pioneering classes.
1876 - At the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Dr. John D. Runkle, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, perceives in the Russian exhibit a method to unite academic with vocational education. Runkle’s inspiration will in time be regarded as the original seed for what becomes the nation’s system of vocational education.
1880 - Calvin M. Woodward introduces to Washington University, in Saint Louis, the nation’s first complete curriculum for “manual training.”
1886 - The founding of the American Federation of Labor (AF of L) marks the beginning of what becomes and long remains the most significant voice for organized labor in the United States. Especially in its early years, the AF of L will be extremely suspicious of introducing manual training to the public schools, union leaders seeing in this a ploy by management to weaken labor’s control of entry into the most desirable crafts and trades.
1887 - The Hatch Act authorizes the United States Department of Agriculture to work with the nation’s land grant colleges to establish agricultural experiment stations in every state. Within the year, the colleges and the new stations combine stations in every state. Within the year, the colleges and the new stations combine to form the Association of American Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations.
1889- In 1889, the government forces the Creek and Seminole tribes to sell their land in the Oklahoma District for just over four million dollars. Congress then opened the district to white settlement under the Homestead Act.
•The Oklahoma District was opened at noon on April 22, 1889. On that day, 100,000 persons gathered at the district's northern border in wagons, on horseback, and even on bicycles. Fifteen trains lined up at Arkansas City, Kansas, ready to steam into the district. When cannons and guns signaled noon, pandemonium broke loose. Noise and confusion reigned as thousands of Boomers staked claims. Speculators, settlers, and transients claimed 1,920,000 acres of Oklahoma within a few hours. The boom towns of Guthrie and Oklahoma City were established overnight.
1890 - With a Second Morrill Act, the federal government broadens the mission of the land grant colleges, especially in their work with the farming and rural dwelling population. It also guarantees them continuing annual appropriations to support their work.
• Governor George W. Steele signs legislation prepared by the First Territorial Legislature to establish an “Agricultural and Mechanical College of the Territory of Oklahoma” and to place it in Payne County. The Stillwater site will be selected in the following year.
1892 - Jones Academy is founded near Hartshorne, in the Choctaw Nation. From the first, the academy offers agricultural, industrial, and “domestic” instruction, but it separates those subjects from its regular, academic curriculum.
1895 - The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is founded. Identified primarily with very large corporations and firms, the early NAM will be especially critical of using tax monies for educating a working class.
1896 - John Fields, a recent graduate of Pennsylvania State University, arrives at Oklahoma’s A. & M. college to teach both chemistry and physics and will soon emerge as the territory’s foremost advocate of a scientific approach to agriculture.
1899 - In the first of what will become annual conferences, advocates of what they think of as “domestic sciences” push to have the field recognized as a scientific discipline.
1900 - Nationwide, some thirty colleges or universities routinely offer courses in domestic sciences like cooking and sewing, as well as in more specialized offerings, a typical one being “The Management of Help.”
1902 - The Farmers’ Educational and Cooperative Union is organized, dedicating itself to the education of “the agricultural class in scientific farming.” As such, the Farmers’ Union will become a major sponsor of instruction in vocational agriculture through the public schools.
1905 - H. F. Rusch, a graduate of the Kansas State Normal School, leaves Jones Academy, where he had been teaching since 1903, for Oklahoma City, where he will build what is credited as the first effective manual training program for any public school in what becomes Oklahoma. It was just a year old, and that first year had been a rough one, in no small part because the principal had packed the manual classes with the school's worst misfits. Backed by Edgar Vaught, Oklahoma City's superintendent of schools, Rusch swiftly turned the program into the envy of students, parents, and teachers. The last were particularly delighted because Rusch and his kids were kept away from "regular" students; they met in the basement.
Within two years, Lawton, Comanche, and Ardmore also will have successful programs.
1905 - Inspired largely by John Fields, the Oklahoma territorial legislature requires that agriculture be taught, both as a science and as a vocation, in all of the territory’s public schools. The statute is emasculated, however, when teachers and their allies defeat a necessary companion measure to require that the field be included in the preparation of all teachers.
1906 - A nationwide movement on behalf of vocational education culminates in the founding of the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education (NSPIE). At this point and for several years to come, the effort targets states, encouraging that each incorporate a full vocational curriculum.
1906-1907 - Voters elect delegates to prepare a constitution for the nation’s forty-sixth state: Oklahoma. The vast majority of those elected have benefited from the active endorsement of the Farmers’ Union, and the constitution they produce is the nation’s first to mandate anything like what is found in its Article 13, section 7: “The Legislature shall provide for the teaching of the elements of agriculture, horticulture, stock feeding, and domestic science in the common schools of the State.”
1910 - According to the NSPIE, twenty-nine of the nation’s forty-six states offer at least some form of vocational education in their public schools.
1912 - The NSPIE hires Charles A. Prosser as its full-time secretary, and Prosser sets up an office in Washington, near Capitol Hill. Thereupon, the organization will shift its promotion of vocational education from the states and state legislatures to the federal government and Congress.
1914 - By a resolution approved on January 20, Congress authorizes the president to appoint a Commission on Aid to Vocational Education and orders the commission to report its findings and recommendations by June 1. President Woodrow Wilson’s appointees include Charles Prosser of the NSPIE and Senator Hoke Smith and Representative Dudley Hughes, both of Georgia. The outbreak of the First World War that summer slows the commission’s work and forces a postponement of its deadline.
1916 - Since statehood in 1907, the Oklahoma legislature has regularly provided support for vocational agriculture in the state’s schools. More comprehensive forms of vocational instruction are also available in the public schools of Ponca City, Drumright, Checotah, and Muskogee, among others. In addition, the state also funds vocational work at its two college preparatory schools at Tonkawa and Claremore.
1917 - Having earlier received the recommendations of the Commission on Aid to Vocational Education, Congress passes and President Woodrow Wilson signs the so-called Smith-Hughes Act on February 23.
• On March 24, within weeks of the passage of the Smith-Hughes Act, the Oklahoma legislature officially agrees to accept its terms and promises to “meet all conditions necessary” to receive federal funding for its participation in the program. A federally approved plan is required by the law, and Oklahoma’s plan is formally accepted in August.
1918 - In the first school year under the Smith-Hughes law, total enrollment in all forms of vocational training is just under a thousand. Only fourteen schools offer home economics, and they teach just over 400 girls. Only 276 boys study vocational agriculture, most of them in a state preparatory or secondary agricultural school. The Trades and Industries Division prepares not one person for either a trade or an industry. Instead, every one of the 318 young men it enrolls is an Army draftee training for the world war.
1925 - The American Vocational Association is founded as the nation’s principal voice for vocational education.
1926 - The annual state fair sees the formation of the Farm Boys’ Country Life Achievement Club, a precursor to what will evolve into the state FFA.
1927 - Vocational rehabilitation is made a responsibility of the state board and assigned its own division: the Division of Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation. It will remain with vocational education for ten years, when it will become a division directly under the State Department of Education.
• Two new positions (each an area assistant supervisor) are created for the Division of Vocational Agriculture. The first to hold them are Ross Floyd, who is assigned eastern Oklahoma, and James B. Perky, who is given charge of the state’s western portion.
• Vocational agriculture teachers from across the state use the occasion of the annual interscholastic conference at Oklahoma A. & M. College to form the Future Farmers of Oklahoma.
• Under the leadership of Langston University’s D. C. Jones, 13 local chapters comprised of 403 boys form the New Farmers of Oklahoma. Like all of vocational education in Oklahoma (for that matter, like nearly everything concerned with public education at all), vocational agriculture is thoroughly segregated. Thus, the NFO is a club for black schoolboys only. The Oklahoma club will become a charter member of the nationwide (and just as segregated) New Farmers of America when it is formed eight years later.
1928 - Representatives of several states’ student organizations meet together at the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City, where they launch the Future Farmers of America (FFA). Oklahoma is accepted as an early member.
1929 - Oklahoma establishes a new State Board of Education to consist of six gubernatorial appointees plus the elected state superintendent of public instruction, who will chair it. In addition to its many duties overseeing every form of schooling except higher education, the board is also designated Oklahoma’s official State Board for Vocational Education for governance under the Smith-Hughes Act. In addition, vocational education is assigned to its own division within the new department.
• The George-Reed Act extends and amends the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917. In addition to increasing the federal support for all of vocational education, the new act gives home economics the status of an independent division (heretofore, it has been under trades and industries), and it assures home economics a fairer share of future federal funding.
• Tulsa Public Schools offers one of the nation’s first programs in what will later be known as distributive education. Called retail selling, Tulsa’s program places high school students with local retailers and complements their work experience with classroom studies.
• Henry G. Bennett assumes the presidency of Oklahoma A. & M. College.
1931 - James Barney Perky replaces E. B. Nelms as state supervisor for vocational agriculture.
1932 - Perky moves his division to Stillwater into facilities that President Henry Bennett has made available on the campus of Oklahoma A. & M. College.
1935 - The George-Ellzey Act replaces the George-Reed Act of 1929. The principal change is to add another half-million to bring the total federal supplement for vocational agriculture and home economics to $3 million each. The law also makes available, for the first time, federal funds to train teachers and to supplement their salaries for what it calls distributive education.
• With the expiration of their teaching contracts on June 30, more than thirty of the state’s best vocational agriculture teachers resign to accept better-paying positions with the federal Soil Conservation Service.
1937 - Oklahoma’s (white) home economics students and their (white) teachers organize the Future Homemakers of Oklahoma. As with vocational agriculture, a segregated, all-black New Homemakers of Oklahoma will also be organized, and this will happen in 1943. The Oklahoma groups will become members of the Future Homemakers of America or of the New Homemakers of America when they are later founded (separately, of course), the FHA in 1944, the NHA in 1945.
1938 - Henry Bennett arranges for federal funds to construct a frame building that Perky and his staff will occupy on Stillwater’s Monroe Street.
1940 - After the sudden and shocking fall of France to Nazi armies, United States Commissioner of Education John Studebaker assembles a small panel consisting of the nation’s most esteemed vocational educators and asks that they plan to train 1.25 million defense workers in the next twelve months. J. B. Perky is one of the few summoned, and the recommendations that he and the rest offer become federal policy in precisely twenty-three days, when the Vocational Training for War Workers Program is created and assigned to each state’s Division of Trades and Industries. J. B. Perky thereupon becomes both Oklahoma’s director for war production training and state supervisor of food production training.
1941 - A new law in April reorganizes the State Department of Education, even though it continues the arrangement of having the State Board of Education perform double-duty in the guise of the State Board for Vocational Education. One change in that respect is that the vocational board is authorized to add two new positions: an executive officer for the board and a director for the state vocational system that it oversees. On June 6, the board fills both positions at once: James Barney Perky becomes state director of vocational education as well as executive officer of the State Board for Vocational Education. While accepting his new responsibilities, Perky also insists upon retaining his position as state supervisor for vocational agriculture.
1942 - Tulsa opens a Douglas bomber plant in the city’s northeast corner, where it will produce 3,138 B-24 Liberators; outfit another 4,000 military airplanes; and produce, pack, and ship 20,000 tons of aircraft parts. Immediately east of Oklahoma City, Tinker Field and the manufacturing plants that surround it begin to build and outfit C-47s and other vital planes. In each case, thousands of highly skilled aircraft workers will be needed, will be trained, and will be hired.
1943 - The Association of Oklahoma Distributors Clubs is officially organized and recognized as the student organization associated with distributive education.
1945 - Distributive education, which has been assigned to the Trades and Industries Division, is separated and given independent status.
1946 - The George-Barden Act more than doubles annual appropriations for all forms of vocational education and alters the formula for their distribution. Despite the significant gains made in Oklahoma (and elsewhere) by industry, the revisions tend to benefit vocational agriculture relative to other programs.
• The State Board of Vocational Education contracts with the United States Veterans Administration to produce a Veterans’ Agriculture Training Program, which is to offer “institutional-on-farm-training” for veterans.
1947 - Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) is formed at a convention of state organizations held in Memphis. Oklahoma becomes a charter member.
1951 - After the house of representatives passes a bill to end all funding for distributive education, J. B. Perky (and others) ignite a firestorm of protests that ends with the senate restoring at least some of the funding, half of it. Similar maneuvering two years later forces the new administration of Dwight Eisenhower to triple federal spending for DE.
1954 - Future Business Leaders of America is chartered in Oklahoma as a club for college-age students.
• In what is commonly referred to as the Brown decision, the United States Supreme Court unanimously holds that legally imposed segregation of the public schools violates Constitutional guarantees under the Fourteenth Amendment. Although other states resist, all stubbornly, Oklahoma begins dismantling its separate-but-equal school system immediately. The beginning comes quickly for Oklahomans, but the end will come slowly for everyone.
1956 - With the so-called Health Amendment to the continuing George-Barden Act, Congress adds the preparation of practical nurses to the mission of state vocational education programs.
1957 - In May, Oklahoma A. & M. College is renamed Oklahoma State University.
• The launching of a Soviet man-made satellite, Sputnik, explodes into a frenzied reexamination of American education in general and of the nation’s scientific and technical education in particular.
1958 - Many state vocational offices relocate to a remodeled brick building on Stillwater’s West Sixth Street. The late Henry Bennett had the National Youth Administration build the structure back in the 1930s, and the university has made it available for vocational education’s use.
• With the National Defense Education Act (NDEA), Congress opens the nation’s purse strings to enrich virtually any form of education that in any conceivable way can be said to contribute almost anything at all to the nation’s supposedly imperilled security. For the purposes of vocational schooling, the important section is Title VIII, which rewrites statutes as far back as Smith-Hughes. Doubling the money that already has been authorized, the new law insists that the added funds be used “exclusively for the training of . . . highly skilled technicians in recognized occupations requiring scientific knowledge in fields necessary for the national defense.”
1959 - Oklahoma State University creates and staffs a Technical Teacher Education Department. Its purpose is to produce instructors qualified to teach in technical training programs, in particular the new ones created under the NDEA.
1961 - Congress approves and President John Kennedy signs the Area Redevelopment Act, targeting regions of chronic unemployment for stepped-up job training.
1962 - Expanding on the previous year’s redevelopment act, the Manpower Development and Training Act offers advanced technical training, particularly to the unemployed, more particularly still to those who are considered the victims of what is called automation.
1963 - After two years of study and deliberation, a panel of experts charged by the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to evaluate the state of vocational education in America issues a blistering report: Education for a Changing World of Work. It is extremely critical of traditional programming, in particular its focus upon occupational divisions, especially when so many of the occupations seem hopelessly outdated. Instead, it recommends that vocational education target not professions but people, especially those heretofore systematically slighted, if not ignored altogether.
• Inspired by certain recommendations from Education for a Changing World of Work, Title V of the National Education Improvement Act of 1963 both expands the federal role in vocational education and shifts its emphasis. Typical of its innovations is the act’s rejection of the traditional formulas governing the distribution of federal aid to the states (heretofore, largely functions of where their residents live, of where they work, or of both) in favor of a distribution based upon the number of each state’s residents within certain age groups. The act also encourages state experimentation in what are called area schools.
1964 - Largely in response to the 1963 act, the state vocational department adds new divisions responsible for business and office education, health occupations, and area schools. In addition, a new Division of Special Services is made responsible for various functions that are unrelated to any particular occupation or division.
• Acting primarily through the Tulsa Public Schools, Tulsa opens the state’s first area school, with an initial enrollment of 321. Over the next three years, other area schools will open in Oklahoma City, Ardmore, Duncan, and Enid.
1965 - The new Division of Business and Office Education sponsors an affiliated student club, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). In 2000, all CareerTech programs in Oklahoma become affiliated with Business Professionals of America (BPA). A parallel club for students in programs under the Division of Trades and Industries is chartered as the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA). The name of the organization is officially changed to SkillsUSA-VICA in 1999.
• Oklahoma chapters of the New Farmers of America, all-black clubs made necessary by the earlier racial segregation of Oklahoma’s schools and their FFA chapters, dissolve as they fold into the Future Farmers of America. In 1969 the membership increases again when girls are admitted to the national organization. The official name is changed to the National FFA Organization in 1988.
• The Future Homemakers of America and New Homemakers of America merge into one national organization, FHA. Oklahoma’s Langston University will now have hosted the first national rally of the New Homemakers of America in 1945 and the last in 1965. The Oklahoma chapters of the Future Homemakers of America will be expanded to include HERO (Home Economics Related Occupations) chapters in 1981. In 1999, FHA/HERO will change its name to Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA).
1966 - During the May runoff elections, voters approve State Question 434, which permits one or more school districts to form a single vocational district, each to be governed by its own, elected vocational board and all expected to build and maintain area vocational-technical schools (AVTS).
• In November, Dewey Bartlett is elected governor. Between his election and his inauguration in January 1967, Bartlett commits himself to becoming Oklahoma’s “job-gettingest” governor ever and resolves to make the state’s vocational education system a major force in his crusade for economic expansion.
1967 - After forty-four years of service to vocational education in Oklahoma (the last twenty-six of them as its state director), James B. Perky retires. Francis Tuttle, who joined the staff just three years earlier to head the division established for area schools, is named his successor.
• In his first act as state director (and five years before any federal law will require it), Francis Tuttle orders that salaries be equalized at all levels without regard to gender.
1968 - The Vocational Education Amendments of 1968 fundamentally reorder the purposes and nature of vocational education in America.
• Two consulting groups, one based in Dallas, Texas, the other at Oklahoma State University, complete reports that are exceedingly critical of vocational education in Oklahoma. High on their common list of complaints are charges that the system wastes too many of its resources training people for jobs that no longer exist and contributes too little toward attracting the new jobs that are needed to replace them.
• By a legislative act made effective on July 1, governance of vocational education is transferred from the State Board of Education to the newly established State Board for Vocational and Technical Education. The same statute also establishes, as an independent executive agency, the State Department of Vocational-Technical Education (SDVTE).
• The administrative structure of the State Department changes dramatically, most notably with the delineation of eleven areas of responsibility that the department groups into six non-occupational divisions: business; finance and manpower training; area vo-tech schools; research, planning, and evaluation; educational services and administration; and special services.
• Oklahoma establishes a Curriculum and Instructional Materials Center (CIMC), which will soon become a national leader in the design, development, and dissemination of educational materials custom fitted to the needs of entire industries.
1970 - New legislation authorizes the SDVTE to purchase and lend industrial equipment and thereby to create a pool of equipment available for job training whenever and wherever needed. Two years later, Oklahoma State University will provide warehousing facilities on its Stillwater campus. By 1975 the equipment pool will include everything from power drills to forklifts — 55,000 items in all.
• Tulsa Junior College, the state’s first metropolitan two-year school, opens. Among its course offerings are those required for its 32 occupational programs, which share an opening-day enrollment of 839.
1971 -The first Skills Centers offer vocational training classes to inmates under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Corrections.
• Launched with funds from a federal grant, the SDVTE refashions mobile homes and dispatches them to seven of southeastern Oklahoma’s poorest counties, where they serve as mobile counseling and guidance centers. The pilot program will be so successful that it will be extended to fourteen southeastern counties, and two new mobile units will be added, one based in Oklahoma County, the other in Burns Flat, for the state’s southwestern region.
1972 - A new staff position is added to the SDVTE’s administration — deputy state director — and filled by Arch Alexander. In that capacity, Alexander will relieve Francis Tuttle of the responsibility for day-to-day oversight of the headquarters staff and free him for other purposes.
• Congressional approval of the Vocational Education Amendments of 1972 expands occupational training, especially at the postsecondary level.
1973 - Tensions surface between the State Department of Vocational-Technical Education and the State Regents for Higher Education. At issue is control over the vocational programs that are offered through the state colleges and universities. The parties agree to compromise their differences beginning this year by entering into formal contracts whereby the SDVTE agrees to hand over to the regents the federal funds that it receives to support vocational education that is offered at the postsecondary level. Such compromises will only delay final resolution, until the two parties can take their differences to the state supreme court. The court will decide the issue in favor of the SDVTE.
1974 - The Oklahoma Health Occupations Student Organization (OHOSO) is formed as the student club associated with the Division of Health Occupations. Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) will be officially organized in 1976 with Oklahoma as a charter state.
1975 - Encouraged by the United States Office of Education, Oklahoma takes the lead in organizing the Mid-America Vocational Curriculum Consortium, a multi-state project to coordinate, develop, and distribute curriculum materials that are usable across the entire central portion of the United States. Ann Benson, who joined the state staff as a curriculum specialist in 1973, will direct the project over its first ten years.
1976 - As a measure of vocational education’s contributions to bringing new investments and jobs to Oklahoma, its various programs — the Training for Industry (TIP) projects in particular — are credited with being major factors in this year’s increase of $58,471,000 in capital investments in Oklahoma and the addition of 2,672 new jobs for its people.
• Best known for its forbidding gender discrimination or bias in vocational education’s programming, the Vocational Education Amendments of 1976 are approved by Congress and signed into law by President Gerald R. Ford.
1977 - In June, Goodyear Tire & Rubber breaks ground to build a major manufacturing plant at Lawton. The company credits the Great Plains AVTS for its choice of the site. In fact, Goodyear will use the campus of the AVTS to train all of the employees it will have to hire until its own facilities are fully operational. Over the next quarter-century, Goodyear’s Lawton plant will undergo seven major expansions at a combined cost of $5.5 billion to become the world’s largest single producer of tires and pump $150 million annually into the local economy. Some 4,900 area residents will work there at one time or another over those 25 years; and 2,300 of them will be Goodyear employees in 2002 alone.
1978 - With the Moore-Norman AVTS responsible for the pilot program, the SDVTE prepares a job counseling, training, and placement service for what it describes as displaced homemakers. It thereafter will be added as a continuing service, and the U.S. Department of Labor will urge other states to consider it a model for similar programs across the nation.
• The American Industrial Arts Student Association (AIASA) is established with Oklahoma as one of the first state associations to charter. In 1988, the name will be changed to the Technology Student Association (TSA).
1984 - As a measure of the value that Oklahoma employers attach to SDVTE training, an estimated two-thirds of the state’s largest and most competitive firms have made vo-tech certification a minimum requirement for hiring.
• Roy Peters, at the time head of the Canadian Valley AVTS, is picked to fill the newly authorized position of associate state director.
1985 - On December 31, Francis Tuttle retires after eighteen years of service as state director of vocational education. He is to be succeeded by his associate state director, Roy Peters. At the time of transition, vocational enrollments total over 200,000; and the system maintains a network of 25 area school districts with 41 sites across the state.
1986 - In his first year as state director, Roy Peters oversees the development of twenty-one Bid Assistance Centers. Located at various AVTS sites, the centers help Oklahoma firms collect $200 million in federal government contracts.
1987 - Due to the strengths of their AVTS facilities, two college-town rivals, Norman and Stillwater, land major new industries. For Norman, it is the newest manufacturing plant to be built by Hitachi, a Tokyo-based and globally involved high-tech firm. Stillwater’s plum is a state-of-the-art production plant that will operate through a subsidiary of World Color Press.
• The State Department of Vocational and Technical Education and the State Regents for Higher Education begin to coordinate the parallel vocational programs that they offer at both area schools and nearby colleges. The first set of agreements matches programs in just four pairs of institutions. By 1993, there will be 180 more of these agreements in place, and the total will pass 250 by 1995.
1988 - The State Department of Vocational and Technical Education adds a Small Business Innovation Research program to help Oklahoma’s technology-oriented firms compete for federal research and development monies. Similarly, the department’s new Technology Transfer Network connects the state’s companies directly to federal laboratories and assures them access to the other resources that are available through a number of federal agencies.
• New business programs are developed and directed specifically for the owners of small business (those employing fewer than twenty persons), medium-sized businesses, and for individuals who are considering opening their own businesses.
• The state agency informally drops the word State from the department name, making it the Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technical Education (ODVTE).
• Francis Tuttle is honored with election to the presidency of the American Vocational Association.g-day enrollment of 839.
1991 - Mission changed in the 1991 Strategic Plan to, “We provide quality, state of the art, flexible, and responsive programs, services, and activities that benefit Oklahomans and the state economy.”
• The first Tech Prep grants were awarded in the summer of 1991 under the Carl Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Act of 1990.
1992 - Sixty-four of the state’s 66 largest processing and manufacturing companies require their current employees to update their job skills in this one but rather typical year. So confident are they of the state’s vocational system, that all 64 rely entirely on the ODVTE to prepare and present all of the instruction their employees must have.
1993 - Oklahoma State Legislature established the Oklahoma Youth Apprenticeship Program administered and supervised by the Oklahoma Board of Vocational and Technical Education. (70 O.S. §14-127)
1994 - Mission changed in the 1994 Strategic Plan to, “We prepare Oklahomans to succeed in the workplace.”
• Tech Prep launched Oklahoma’s School-to-Work system. The National Center for Research in Vocational Education researchers used the Oklahoma Tech Prep system and School-to-Work sites as national models.
1995 - As an extension of Oklahoma’s School-to-Work strategies, 90 of its high schools, 19 of its area vo-tech schools, and 12 of its colleges cooperate in programs designed to integrate a student’s academic and vocational studies from the junior and senior years of high school through another two years of postsecondary preparation.
• The American Vocational Association names Roy Peters the nation’s outstanding vocational educator.
1998 - Oklahoma State Legislature established competitive grant dropout recovery programs within technology center districts. (70 O.S. §14-103.1). Oklahoma State Legislature established pilot programs at technology center schools for the expansion of rural businesses. (70 O.S. §14-103.3)
• In January 1998, Central Technology Center became the first technology center to host an Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics regional program when it hosted a program at its Drumright campus. The regional centers offer advanced science and math courses and hands-on lab experiences to high school students in technology center districts. Students attend the technology center part of the day and attend their home high schools the remainder of the day.
1999 - Oklahoma State Legislature charged the Oklahoma Department of CareerTech with establishing a program of training and certification for medical micro-pigmentation (70§14-103.4); Oklahoma State Legislature changed the name from Department of Vocational and Technical Education to Department of Career and Technology Education (70 O.S. §14-104). I think it was in 2000.
• Roy Peters resigns as state director to accept a position with the Tulsa-based Oklahoma Alliance for Manufacturing Excellence. Over his tenure of thirteen years as director, total vocational enrollments have more than doubled to reach 481,821, and 29 vocational districts have made training easily accessible for 97 percent of the state’s population through their 54 sites.
• Dr. Ann Benson was named state director following Roy Peters’ resignation.
• After a series of devastating tornados strike all over the state on the evening of May 3, the department responds with a swiftness equaled only by its creativity. Within weeks, the ODVTE prepares and presents through thirteen of its area schools a complete “Skills to Rebuild” curriculum, classes designed to equip people with the skills they will need to repair their own homes and businesses.2000
• By legislation signed by Governor Frank Keating on May 19, the Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technical Education is renamed the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. Its governing board is similarly renamed the State Board of Career and Technology Education. Not needing statutory permission, all area vo-tech schools already have substituted the term Technology Center in their names.
2000 - The State Board of Career and Technology Education was granted authorization by the State Legislature to hold videoconference meetings. Months later the first meeting took place between Metro Technology Center in Oklahoma City and Tri County Technology Center in Bartlesville.
2001 - The United States Department of Education awards Oklahoma a $2.2 million federal grant to identify and coordinate what the nation’s twenty-first century students will need to learn in their schools if they are later to perform well on their jobs.
• The United States Department of Education identifies the telecommunications program offered at the Drumright campus of the Central Technology Center as an exemplary vocational program, one of only three in the nation that the department considers worthy of that high distinction.
• The Tinker Education Partnership Agreement, signed by Governor Frank Keating, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett, CareerTech Director Ann Benson, Hans Brisch, Chancellor of the State Regents for Higher Education, Tinker’s Major General Charles Johnson II, and Robert Conner, executive director of Tinker’s Air Logistics Center, commits the CareerTech system to train and Tinker to hire at least 3,400 of the new employees that the base will need to replace those scheduled to retire by 2007. Airframe and Power Plant courses were restructured to meet specifications for the base.
• Oklahoma State Legislature changed the name of area vocational-technical schools to technology centers (70 O.S. §14-108).
• The Technology Center Administrator Program was adopted. TechCAP is an intensive technology center administrator preparation program for individuals working in the technology center system who aspire to establish, continue or advance their technology center administrator careers and increase their knowledge of the CareerTech system.
• CareerTech’s partnership with Brainbench allowed students and instructors to take more than 300 industry certification exams online free of charge and have the results back instantly.
• The Oklahoma Restaurant Association and the Hospitality Business Alliance teamed up with CareerTech to implement ProStart. The project was a School-to-Work initiative providing high school students with classroom training and internship experience in the food service/hospitality industry.
• GirlTech began as a mentoring pilot project designed to help female students succeed in nontraditional career paths such as information technology, science and engineering.
• WorldCom donated $1.7 million worth of telecommunications equipment to 12 technology centers to further facilitate education of information technology and telecommunications workers.
• In April, Future Business Leaders of America/Phi Beta Lambda, the student organization for Oklahoma’s business and information technology education, became known as Business Professionals of America.
2002 - With the support of a special $921,000 congressional appropriation, CareerTech’s Learning Network offers its first on-line vocational courses.
• Expansion Management, the country’s leading trade journal among economic development professionals, identifies Oklahoma’s CareerTech as one of the nation’s two most outstanding workforce training programs.
• The first Project Lead the Way Pre-Engineering course was taught. PLTW is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools and high schools to implement a curriculum that emphasizes hands-on experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and biomedical sciences in an effort to prepare students for academic and professional success in these disciplines.
• Fulfilling the pledge she had made when accepting the position, Ann Benson announces her retirement in her fourth year as state director.
2003 - The CareerTech Skills Centers Division (CTSC) has evolved into what amounts to a state-wide school system, with “campuses” at eighteen public prisons, one private prison and four juvenile facilities. In recent years, nearly three-quarters of CTSC’s graduates go straight into training-related jobs, and enough others find work that close to 90 percent are working immediately upon their release. On the average, they draw wages approaching $10 per hour, and their first-year recidivism rate has been reduced to no more than 2 to 3 percent.
• On January 13, Pete Buswell, nationally respected for his management expertise in the field of worldwide learning services, succeeds Dr. Ann Benson as CareerTech’s state director. Buswell is only the fifth to hold that position in the system’s entire history.
• After a difficult five-month tenure, Buswell resigns on May 21. That same day Dr. Phil Berkenbile, a man with deep roots in the system, is appointed as interim state director.
• Oklahoma State Legislature established new board structure for the system of career and technology education (70 O.S. §14-101). Whereas the former board consisted of 13 members, the new board has nine members – the state superintendent of public instruction, two members from the State Board of Education, five members appointed by Congressional district and one at-large member.
• Governor Brad Henry made appointments to the new State Board of Career and Technology Education created by legislation approved this past spring.
• The Oklahoma Career Information System, with detailed career information, assessments, and career development activities to help individuals from middle school through adults, was introduced to the state of Oklahoma as the replacement for the CD version of Oklahoma Career Search.
• Ten school districts began to use TechConnect. This program was designed to link technology education programs offered to sixth through eighth grade students with technical preparation programs offered to juniors and seniors at technology centers.
• The first Pre-Engineering Academy with academics was developed.
2004 - New director Dr. Phil Berkenbile was hired by State Board as the sixth director in the system’s history. CareerTech reached a milestone of more than 500,000 total enrollments in the system.
• Oklahoma State Legislature passed SB1271 (70 O.S. §11-103.6) that allowed technology centers to teach math and science, with certified teachers, to sophomores in a focused program of career study. This legislation allowed the system to implement true career academies in which math and science are an integral part of the education program, culminating with calculus and physics.
• Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and ODCTE launched the Cooperative Alliance Program. Through this program, high school students can complete their high school studies while earning college credit toward associate in applied science degrees by completing courses at technology centers and colleges. Adult students can earn college credit toward their A.A.S. degrees by completing courses at both technology centers and colleges in Oklahoma.
2005 - Mission changed in the 2005 Strategic Plan to, “We prepare Oklahomans to succeed in the workplace, in education, and in life.”
• The state agency entered into a partnership with Aurora Learning Community Association to develop an online delivery system called ICAT. This tool is a learning and content management system provided to all teachers, students, counselors, staff and administration associated with the Oklahoma CareerTech system.
• CareerTech, along with ACT, developed the Career Readiness Certificate to help job applicants prove to employers that they have the foundational skills necessary to begin work and successfully participate in job training programs. Career Readiness uses a test to measure a person’s ability to learn, communicate and solve problems. The program also identifies required skills for a specific job and helps identify necessary training.
• “Oklahoma Horizon,” a television show focusing on agriculture, economic development and the education and training of Oklahomans for successful careers debuted on OETA. The 30-minute weekly production is a partnership between the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and CareerTech. Only six months after its first episode, the show moved to a new time slot and two new segments were added.
2006 - The first Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation Minority Scholarship was presented to recruit qualified individuals to pursue an educational plan in a college or university.
• A $1 million grant was given to the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education by the United States Department of Labor for its youthful offender program
2007 - Technology Education changed its name to Technology Engineering and later to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
• Sixteen Career Clusters were created to provide an organizing tool or framework for schools, colleges, small learning communities, academies, magnet schools, Tech Prep sites and High School That Work sites.
• An initiative to increase the number of students who meet the reading, math and science performance goals began in technology centers with Technology Centers That Work.
• Oklahoma piloted the Project Lead the Way Biomedical Science curriculum. The first course, Principles of the Biomedical Sciences, was field-tested in 42 schools in seven states that provided funding for the development of the program.
2008 - The Curriculum and Instructional Materials Center began offering full-color curriculum to its customers, and the Printing Plant upgraded equipment to meet this demand.
• Tri County Technology Center entered into a Cooperative Alliance with higher education. Now all 29 technology centers have Cooperative Alliances, making it a true statewide partnership.
• The Testing Division launched a national testing effort in conjunction with the Career Clusters project. The National Health Science Assessment became the first test offered.
2009 - Women in Leadership began to create a professional learning community that will maximize leadership opportunities for women in CareerTech Education. The women participated in four sessions where they learned how to influence others, communicate information, lead and think strategically.
• The Oklahoma Career Readiness Certificate Program transferred to the ODCTE from the Department of Commerce.
2010 - The Service Center and Warehouse merged their spaces and some functions to become more efficient.
• The state agency offered an early retirement incentive, followed by a reduction in force resulting in a reduction of 30 full-time staff members.
• CareerTech Perspectives began to provide a hands-on approach to learning the intricacies of our system. Its goals were to create a culture of inquiry and excitement for CareerTech initiatives, expand each participant’s network and resource base and establish the foundation necessary to accomplish the mission of CTE by understanding the important role the CareerTech system plays in the success of individuals and our state’s economy.
• The OKCIS App for the iPhone, with a searchable scholarship list, detailed occupational information, and the Oklahoma schools database became available in the iTunes App Store.
• A partnership between ODCTE and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education allowed 27 technology center districts to accept eTranscripts, transcripts sent electronically, from their partner comprehensive schools.
• In July, State Director Phil Berkenbile began a one-year term as president of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium.
2011 - The Oklahoma CareerTech Skills Centers School System celebrated 40 years of restoring lives. The Skills Centers offer specialized, occupational training to adult and juvenile offenders throughout the state,
2012 - CareerTech supported Oklahoma’s Military-to-Employment Transition Initiative along with the Oklahoma Military Connection to help those who have served in the military find resources and help in finding jobs. The department hired a coordinator to assist with these efforts.
• The Oklahoma National Technical Honor Society Endowed Scholarship Program was established with the CareerTech Foundation.
2013 - Dr. Phil Berkenbile resigns as state director in February. Dr. Kay Martin, former superintendent of Francis Tuttle Technology Center, is appointed interim director. Dr. Robert Sommers becomes the seventh state director in April.
• Dr. Marcie Mack begins at the agency in July 2013 and serves as deputy state director/chief operations officer.
2014 - In August 2014 Robert Sommers resigns and Marcie Mack is named interim state director.
2015 - On Jan. 16, the Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education names Marcie Mack the eighth state director.
James B. Perky
June 6, 1941 – 1967
The late J.B. Perky worked 44 years in vocational education. During this time, he was a vocational agriculture teacher, district supervisor, state supervisor, state adviser of the Future Farmers of America and state director.
Perky was born in Cleburne, Texas, in 1901. He began his career in vocational education in 1923 as a vocational agriculture instructor in El Reno. In 1941, Perky was appointed state director.
In 1961, he was appointed to President John F. Kennedy’s Panel of Consultants on Vocational Education to review and evaluate vocational education. That work led to the Vocational Education Act of 1963, which greatly increased appropriations.
Perky was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1962. He retired as state director in 1967 and died in 1970.
Perky was inducted to the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 1990.
Dr. Francis Tuttle
1967 – Dec. 31, 1985
The late Francis Tuttle was director of Oklahoma's State Department of Career and Technology Education for almost two decades. He pioneered the way for career and technical education nationwide.
Prior to coming to CareerTech, Tuttle taught vocational agriculture and served as superintendent of schools at Gotebo, Muskogee and Holdenville.
Following his retirement from ODCTE, the governor appointed him director of the Oklahoma Department of Economic Development. He subsequently was appointed secretary of commerce when his agency merged into the Department of Commerce.
Tuttle’s service to education includes consultations for Sweden, Thailand, the Soviet Union and China. He also served as president of the American Vocational Association.
He was one of the first three inductees into the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame and received the Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Service Award in 1982.
Tuttle was inducted into the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 1990.
Tuttle's time as state director included several firsts:
- In his first act as state director (and five years before any federal law required it), he ordered that salaries be equalized at all levels without regard to gender.
- By a legislative act made effective on July 1, 1968, governance of vocational education transferred from the State Board of Education to the newly established State Board for Vocational and Technical Education. The same statute also established the State Department of Vocational-Technical Education as an independent executive agency.
- The first Skills Centers offered vocational training classes to inmates under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Corrections.
Dr. Roy Peters Jr.
Jan. 1, 1986 – Feb. 10, 1999
Roy Peters was born June 3, 1942, the son of lifelong educators Mr. and Mrs. Roy Peters Sr. After graduation from Alex High School, Peters attended the University of Oklahoma, where he earned a bachelor's degree in business education. He later earned a master's degree in technical education and a doctorate in occupational and adult education from Oklahoma State University.
Peters' contributions to career and technology education began in 1964 at U.S. Grant High School, where he taught and was a coordinator of distributive education and business education. He sponsored DECA and FBLA at the school until leaving in 1971. From 1970 to 1972, Peters taught cooperative vocational education at the University of Central Oklahoma for prospective teachers and administrators around Oklahoma.
From 1971 to 1973, Peters served as adult education specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technical Education (now CareerTech). He was responsible for planning, organizing and conducting specialized adult education programs. Peters served as assistant superintendent for instruction at Moore Norman Area Vocational-Technical School from 1973 to 1979 and as superintendent of Canadian Valley Area Vocational Technical School from 1979 to 1984.
Peters continued to climb the career and technology education ladder, serving as associate state director at the state department from 1984 to 1985 and finally taking over as state director in January 1986. In his first year as state director, he oversaw the development of 21 bid assistance centers, which help Oklahoma companies collect $200 million in federal government contracts. During his tenure, the Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technical Education became the ninth largest state agency and served 300,000 students a year.
By the end of Peters' term in February 1999, 1,200 comprehensive high school programs were operating in more than 500 comprehensive high schools in Oklahoma. The system also had 54 technology center campuses.
After leaving the state agency, Peters served as president and chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Alliance for Manufacturing Excellence, a position he held until retirement. He has also stayed involved with the CareerTech System by leading the effort to raise money for the Francis Tuttle Endowed Chair at OSU and serves as chairman of the CareerTech Foundation.
Peters was inducted into the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame in 2012. He was inducted to the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 2001.
Dr. Ann Benson
Feb. 11, 1999 – Dec. 31, 2002
Ann Benson launched her career by teaching home economics in her hometown of Coyle. She served as curriculum specialist and assistant state director of ODCTE before being appointed state director in 1999. She led the initiative for basic skills integration in CareerTech courses to strengthen academic performance.
In her first year as state director, she championed the system’s name change from vocational education to career and technology education to more accurately reflect how career and technology education is delivered. Gov. Frank Keating signed House Bill 2128 on May 19, 2000, renaming the Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technical Education as the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. The governing board was similarly renamed the State Board of Career and Technology Education. Not needing statutory permission, all area vo-tech schools already have substituted the term technology center in their names.
Benson was inducted into the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame in 2003 and the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 2005.
ODCTE also received a $2.2 million grant to manage the national career clusters initiative during Benson's tenure.
Pete J. Buswell
Jan. 13, 2003 – May 21, 2003
Pete Buswell was a businessman from Boston, Mass., who developed global training programs for companies such as IBM, Drake International and Data General before being named director of ODCTE.
Buswell received his master's degree in training and development from Lesley College in Cambridge, Mass. He earned a bachelor's degree in education from Northeastern University.
Dr. Phil Berkenbile
Jan. 7, 2004 – Feb. 7, 2013
Phil Berkenbile began his career in Oklahoma as an agricultural education instructor for Morrison Public Schools and later became the superintendent of schools in Morrison. He served in various positions at ODCTE, including agricultural education northwest district supervisor and curriculum specialist, agricultural education assistant state supervisor, associate state director for education services and chief of staff.
He served on several boards and task forces, including chairman of the Governor’s Taskforce on Healthcare and chairman of the Oklahoma Education Technology Trust Foundation. He received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in agricultural education from Oklahoma State University, and in 2006, he received the OSU Graduate of Distinction Award in Agricultural Education.
He has held several national positions including president of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium. Berkenbile assumed this role at a pivotal time, as national and state leaders in education, including those at NASDCTEc, implemented a range of strategies to prepare students to compete in the global economy.
Berkenbile received the prestigious 2012 VIP Award from the Oklahoma FFA Association and the 2010 VIP Citation from the National FFA Organization. The VIP Citation is one of the most prestigious awards a person may receive for supporting FFA and its programs.
During Berkenbile's tenure as state director, ODCTE embraced the National Career Clusters initiative to help students create a strong pathway to careers and created science, technology, engineering and mathematics academies, including those for pre-engineering and biomedical studies, as well as offerings in biotechnology.
Dr. Robert Sommers
March 29, 2013 – August 15, 2014
On April 1, 2013, Robert Sommers became the seventh state director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. In July 2013, Gov. Mary Fallin also named Sommers the secretary of education and workforce development.
Sommers previously served as CEO and managing member of Carpe Diem Learning Systems, an organization created to replicate the high-performing, cost-effective Carpe Diem personalized blended learning model.
For nine years, Sommers served as CEO and superintendent of an Ohio career-technical district, Butler Technology and Career Development Schools, in Hamilton, Ohio. Under his leadership, the district doubled in size, became the highest performing career-technical district in Ohio and became known for creative educational programs, including blended learning schools. The district served more than 26,000 high school through adult students and provided customized training to companies.
For 15 years, Sommers served in several capacities with the Ohio Department of Education. He served as an agricultural supervisor, state FFA adviser, assistant director of program evaluation services and associate director for career-technical education.
Sommers’ teaching experience includes agricultural education in London, Ohio.
Sommers served as Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s education policy adviser, covering elementary through university education policy. During his tenure, Ohio implemented reforms for increased school performance transparency, teacher evaluation, school choice, digital education options and failing school transformation.
While in Detroit, he served as CEO of Cornerstone Charter Schools, where he designed the Cornerstone Health High School, a blended learning school that opened in fall 2012.
Sommers earned a doctorate in educational administration and leadership from The Ohio State University, Columbus, where he also completed his master’s degree in agricultural education. He earned a bachelor of science degree in education at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and has received several education and business awards in Ohio. He has also served in leadership positions in numerous state and national organizations, including chairman of the Performance Taskforce for the National Association of Career and Technical Education.
Dr. Marcie Mack
February 1, 2015 - March 1, 2022
Dr. Marcie Mack began work at the Oklahoma Department of CareerTech in July 2013 as deputy state director/chief operations officer. She previously served as assistant superintendent at Autry Technology Center, one of the 29 technology centers within the CareerTech System.
Mack worked at Autry Technology Center for more than 19 years, serving in various capacities, including support, instructor, information systems and administration. She has been involved in various community organizations and served in various leadership roles within local and state organizations.
She earned a doctorate in educational administration and leadership from Oklahoma State University, where she also completed her master’s degree in telecommunications management and a bachelor’s degree in education. She has a true passion for high-quality education.
Dr. Lee Denney
March 2, 2022 - Present