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1951 - 1970

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.

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