485 Days and Counting: NYC's Education Department Stymies Public Records Requests, Both Big and Small

The 74 Interview: Alexis Morin on Students For Education Reform, Youth Power & Achieving Educational Justice

How Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Is Traumatizing Students Across the U.S. — Including Many Born Here

10 Keys to How the Class of 2021 Views the World: They Never Used Landlines or Desktops—But Are Emoji Experts

Success Academy Students Outscore Every District in New York State on Annual English and Math Exams

10 Tips for Immigrant Students, Families to Be Safe Part of LAUSD’s New ‘We Are One’ Guide

Alliance College-Ready Public Schools: AMPing Up Its Alumni Network to Track & Guide Students Through College

New Study: KIPP Pre-K Has Big — and Possibly Lasting — Impact on Early Student Achievement

My First Solar Eclipse! 17 Eye-Opening Photos of Kids Experiencing Science Along the Path of Totality

Bullying on the Rise in NYC Middle and High Schools, NYDN Analysis of Student Surveys Shows

Immigration Agents Inside Schools? Why Some Activists Are Warning Undocumented Students About Trump’s Policy Shifts

NYC Numbers Show City’s Unassigned Teachers Paid $10,000 More on Average Than Those Teaching Kids Full Time

As Immigrant Students Worry About a New School Year, Districts & Educators Unveil Plans to Protect Their Safety (and Privacy)

A D.C. Breakthrough as Traditional Public School Students Post Gains on PARCC Test, Outperforming Charters

This Week in ESSA: Final 4 First-Round States Get Federal Feedback, 6 States Now Approved, Chiefs for Change Weighs In

‘No One Is Above the Law’: Divisive Trump Surrogate Carl Paladino Removed From Buffalo School Board

Veto Override Uncertain as Fight Over Funding Illinois Schools Moves to the House

Noble Network of Charter Schools: It’s Not Just About Going to College, but About Global Perspective & Leaving Chicago

74 Interview: David Hardy on Putting Purpose Before Politics and Kids Before Adults in Leading Ohio’s 2nd State-Takeover District

For Schools, an Eclipse Conundrum: To Open or Close? For Fun or for Science?

VIDEO: Iowa’s Grand Plan to Rethink High School as On-The-Job Training — from Airplanes to Windmills

January 26, 2016

Talking Points

Video: A CTE boom in Iowa, where the education focus is rethinking HS as on-the-job training #EDlection2016

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

This is the first EDlection 2016 film in a series that will profile the top education issues driving public discussion in the early primary states (the Iowa caucuses are scheduled for Monday). To read our previous coverage of Iowa education issues, as well as other EDlection stories from across the country, please see our full archive.

Updated January 27

Aiddy Phomvisay is beaming as he walks into a vast room full of fish tanks: “This is the only intercoastal Marine Biology program in the United States...and it’s right here in Iowa.”

Phomvisay has good reason to boast — both about his unlikely program and the unique, forward-looking school that houses it. Phomvisay is the assistant director of the Des Moines Public Schools Central Campus, a vast complex of 39 programs for career technical training for high schoolers in Iowa. Central Campus draws students from districts throughout Des Moines and its suburbs, with about 1,500 enrolled in its advance career programs. Students attend training in everything from aviation to catering to ocean environmental studies.

It’s a bustling technical high school with a 98 percent attendance rate, where students can earn college credits or even an associate’s degree to qualify them for specialized jobs right after graduation.

In recent years, Iowa’s high schoolers have struggled finding jobs and completing college.  In 2012, the state had one of the lowest college graduation rates in the midwest.

Educators blamed a variety of factors, but rising college tuition and a sagging local economy continues to challenge the state’s families. With significant investments from the Obama administration for Career Technical Training since 2012, Iowa doubled down on programs like those at Central Campus.

Teachers at Central Campus say CTE makes Iowa’s high school grads more competitive: “When I went to high school, I could just get a job at a plant,” says veteran wind turbine instructor Larry Beall. “Now you need at least some kind of secondary degree to be able to compete.”

“It’s a win-win for business, for Iowa and for students,” Phomvisay says as he exist the marine biology lab for the airplane hangar — and state-of-the-art flight simulator — down the hall.

More Videos From The 74:
Special Report: How the Drought Is Crippling California's Schools

America's Oldest - and Most Adorable - Teacher Turns 102

Meet the Visionary Chicago School Leader Who Just Won a 'Genius' Grant