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Vo-tech system getting new name

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The name "vo-tech" has been around for years, but some education leaders have worried that the name doesn't match what they are doing.

Now it will be "career tech."

The vo-tech name is history as Gov. Frank Keating signed a bill changing the name of the Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technical Education to the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

Along with Friday's switch, the legislation changes the name of the State Board of Vocational-Technical Education to the State Board of Career and Technology Education.

"Many people still have an outdated perception of career and technology education," said Rep. Dale Wells, D-Cushing. He co-authored House Bill 2128 with Sen. Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater. "Educators believe calling themselves `career tech' rather than`vo-tech' will help to change these perceptions."

Ann Benson, state director of the newly renamed agency, applauded the name change.

She said that in many parts of the country, "vo-tech" is linked with second-rate education for students who aren't going to college.

"The term is an initial stumbling block to executives who are considering new plant locations until they get in to see for themselves the quality of our schools programs and people," she said. "However, once they see us, they are sold. That cements our reputation as the economic development branch of Oklahoma's education system."

"While the term `vo-tech' has a long and proud tradition in Oklahoma, this new name more accurately represents what we teach and how we teach it," she said.

The statewide system of career and technology education includes high school and post-secondary programs in 399 school districts and 54 technology center campuses. She said the name change aligns the state agency with the technology center campuses that had all changed their names in recent years from "area vo-tech schools" to "technology centers."

Wells said the name change gives the chance to educate Oklahomans about the mission of the centers to prepare Oklahomans for success in the workplace.

About 481,000 people are enrolled this year in technology center programs.
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