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A Vision for Yesterday and Today

Friday, April 21, 2023

By Brent Haken

A Vision for Yesterday and Today

Some visions and philosophies withstand the test of time, offering wisdom long after their theorists have passed away.

Oklahoma’s vision for career and technology education emerged in 1968 under then State Director Francis Tuttle. Tuttle’s ideas and their undeniable impact on CareerTech systems nationwide persevere today, providing a road map for establishing a comprehensive system for workforce development.

Tuttle called on every educational institution in the state to incorporate some level of career training into their curriculums and to quickly adapt those programs to changing workforce needs. He shared his vision in a speech to vocational instructors in 1969.

“It is my opinion that we have only scratched the surface in the development of occupational education,” Tuttle told members of the Missouri Vocational Association. “To be successful and acceptable, occupational education must be part of the total education program. It must exist within the framework of the whole educational pattern and be consistent with the objectives of the program level at which it is located.”

This tenet continues to guide us today as Oklahoma CareerTech strives to create more opportunities for students to take industry-specific courses through a network of technology centers, school districts, skills centers and Adult Education and Family Literacy providers. Working in tandem with schools and businesses to develop career-based curriculums was the centerpiece of Tuttle’s strategy

“We must take full cognizance of all agencies and institutions, private and public, which are at present offering some part of an occupational education program,” Tuttle said in his 1969 speech. “No longer can every level and every school go its separate way.”

Oklahoma CareerTech became an independent state agency in 1968 under Tuttle’s leadership, giving it the freedom and flexibility to pursue innovative ideas and respond quickly to the state’s workforce needs. Today, Oklahoma’s CareerTech system remains a model for workforce development, thanks to Tuttle’s teachings.

We are thankful for the vision of Tuttle and others who shaped career and technology education in Oklahoma. That vision is only expanding and must be built upon to meet the needs of Oklahomans. Oklahoma Career Tech can be a part of your vision for your future. 

Despite Oklahoma’s vaunted CareerTech system, the state continues to scratch the surface when it comes to meeting demand for skilled workers. The waiting list for students wanting to enroll in training programs at the state’s 29 technology centers exceeds 11,000 amid stagnant state funding.

Solving the state’s talent problem will require innovative thinking and more resources. Guided by the lessons of Francis Tuttle, CareerTech can play a starring role in Oklahoma’s effort to produce more highly skilled workers for high-growth industries. We have the expertise and knowledge to navigate the complicated waters of workforce development.   

Tuttle’s pioneering spirit continues today, as CareerTech invests in emerging technologies and new learning methods to provide an education for our times. Tuttle’s premise of combining academic education with career training remains a fundamental tenet of CareerTech, especially in a world of advancing automation and global integration.

A strong system of career and technology training built on a base of academic education gives students the option to go right to work from high school or into a university to gain a broad and deep education that enables them to adapt to changes in technology and workforce needs.

Enrollments within Oklahoma’s CareerTech system totaled 446,940 in fiscal 2022, and membership in Oklahoma CareerTech student organizations such as FFA and FCCLA has soared to an all-time high of 97,385.

If you would like to learn more about Oklahoma CareerTech, visit our website at or

Brent Haken is the state director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

Last Modified on Apr 21, 2023