Career-Technical Education Equity Newsletter: October 2020

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each child our future - in ohio, each child is challenged, prepared and empowered

Career-Technical Education Equity Newsletter

Welcome to the first issue of the Career-Technical Education Equity Newsletter!

Thank you for participating as the Equity Ambassador for your Career-Technical Planning District or Tech Prep region. The Equity Ambassador program was established to support the educational community in ensuring all students have equitable access and meaningful engagement in high-quality career-technical education programs. The work of the Equity Ambassador program is in alignment with Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education Each Child, Our Future, which includes equity as one of three core principles.

The Office of Career-Technical Education Equity Workgroup looks forward to collaborating with Equity Ambassadors and the state of Ohio’s commitment toward improving equity in career-technical education for students in special populations and subgroups.

Below you will find the contact information of the Ohio Department of Education employees who are directly involved with supporting equity in career-technical education. Please feel free to reach out to any of these individuals if you have questions or feedback.

Career-Technical Education Equity Workgroup:

Alyssa Bregel - Education Program Specialist

Becky Crance - Equity Workgroup Lead and Equitable Access Program Administrator

Brenna Bartlett - Equity Lead and Education Program Specialist

Crystal Dortch - Education Program Specialist

Dean Scheiderer - Education Program Specialist

Hamet Ly - Administrative Professional

Kayla Mack - Education Program Specialist

Kristopher Vigneron - Education Program Specialist

Michelle Ward - Education Program Specialist and Methods of Administration Coordinator

Shell Nichols- Associate Director

Tawanna Fields-Mphande - Education Program Specialist

Equity Ambassador Spotlight

This quarter, the spotlight is on the Northwest Tech Prep team. Equity Ambassadors, Stephen Peck, Judy Ennis, Karen Bleeks, Anna Diekman, Kathy Siebenaler Wilson and Anna Diekman completed their initial online courses that are offered through the Office of Career-Technical Education and facilitated by the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity.

The 3 certification courses inspired the team to organize a live panel webinar on the importance of mindset in students. The successful webinar had nearly 100 people registered! Congratulations to the Northwest Tech Prep team Equity Ambassadors!

“Why are you passionate about equity in education?”

“I am passionate about equity in education because of the positive impact it creates for our youth and society. Educators at every level can increase student achievement and encourage our students interests."

- Steve Peck

“The classroom creates the environment that allows learning opportunities not only of academic skills, but lifelong skills that is why I am passionate about equity in education!"

Judy Ennis

"The classroom creates the environment that allows learning opportunities not only of academic skills, but lifelong skills that is why I am passionate about equity in education!"

Karen Bleeks

"Equity provides a positive culture and climate for students/employee - and needs to be recognized by education teachers/administration as a necessary component -- I am passionate in helping build bridges between education and business/industry so that all students/schools and business/industry  can work with the best prepared individuals from ALL walks of life -- resulting in the most successful  world of work!”

Kathy Siebenaler Wilson, PhD

“In our world of diversity, it is critical to cultivate equity within our youth early in their learning environments to better prepare them for an ever-changing workforce. When children comprehend equity they will focus, as second nature, beyond the traditional not only eliminating barriers, but inspiring change through theirs and future generations.”

Anna Diekman, M.Ed.  

Civil Rights Corner

Michelle Ward, Methods of Administration Program Coordinator

“Remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”   - Harriet Tubman

Do you know there is a federal program for ensuring that students have equal access to opportunities in career-technical education? The United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, oversees this program and Ohio has chosen to house it at the Ohio Department of Education, Office of Career-Technical Education. 

The Department is the state agency responsible for the administration of this compliance program to prevent, identify and remedy discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender/sex, disability or age.  As Ohio’s Methods of Administration Program coordinator, it was my privilege to lead a workgroup of stakeholders that recently revised the state plan for fulfilling our responsibilities in this program.  Across the nation, original state plans were written back in 1979 and were still in effect. You can review our new state plan at as well as peruse the Office of Civil Rights reading room, obtain forms, or look over accessibility standards.  We will be expanding resources and training opportunities, so stay tuned!

If you have concerns or topics of interest, I would love to hear from you.  You may contact me at with questions or ideas about how I can best serve you.

Digital Equity through Remote Learning: Supportive Strategies, Challenges, and Opportunities

Kayla Mack, Education Program Specialist

The start of this very unique school year has provided educators, students, and families an opportunity to redesign how we educate, and more so establish a sustainable foundation of equitable practices and policies. In an article published in April of 2020 by Tech and Learning, Diane Doersch and Kali Alford discuss with author, Ray Bendici some best practices around digital equity in remote learning. Below are key strategies, challenges and opportunities from that discussion that practitioners can to begin to immediately apply in their classrooms.

  • Co-authors of their learning journey. Create space within curriculum and program development for students to be co-authors of their learning journey
  • Build rapport with students. Learning the unique skills and abilities each student brings along their learning journey will help create quality individualized learning and opportunity to proactively implement supports where needed. Remember differences are assets, not barriers.
  • Promote self-agency. Allow students to show what they have learned. Flipgrid is an example of how to create opportunity for students to provide self-expression of their comprehension. Giving students a chance to suggest/use alternative compatible technology to complete a task or assignment. “Allowing them to say, ‘Hey, I want to use these tools to do that thing.’ It helps a student take better charge of their learning and it’s not the teacher dictating things.” (Bendici, 2020)
  • Access checks are essential in assuring students have internet to engage in class and submit assigned work. “Don’t assume that all students have continual access to WiFi as some may only have it at times. Also don’t assume that students have more than one internet-enabled device in the home--in many cases, even if they do, devices are often used by more than one person in a home and may need to be shared. Remember that when students or families say they have the internet at home, they may just be talking about Mom’s smartphone. Be sure to define what internet access means when you survey families regarding resources available.” (Bendici, 2020)
  • Flexible scheduling. “Don’t assume that students are able to submit or complete work in accordance to a daily schedule. As there are too many variables involved, expecting that students can complete remote learning assignments within 24 hours may be too optimistic. Maintaining this expectation may create undue pressure on students that could, in turn, cause them to disengage with class or school. In the same regard, give students extra time and opportunities for reflection upon work they have already done.Know when to use synchronous and when to use asynchronous learning. Assigning asynchronous activities can provide flexibility in a student’s day, especially important for students with limited internet access.” (Bendici, 2020)
  • Know when to use synchronous and when to use asynchronous learning. Assigning asynchronous activities can provide flexibility in a student’s day, especially important for students with limited internet access” (Bendici, 2020).
  • Employ situational awareness. “Group Zoom conferences can amplify equity issues by asking students to open a camera that exposes less-than-ideal living conditions. Remember, students need access to the internet, hardware, and parental permission to participate, and not all may have those items.” (Bendici, 2020)
  • Free expression. “Allow students to show what they’ve learned in different ways so they may use the resources available to them. For example: a video reaction to a chapter is easier to do on a smartphone vs. having them try to type a one-page paper on a smartphone.” (Bendici, 2020)
  • Mental health checks. “Take time to check in with your students and their SEL needs. A short-survey form students fill out a few times a week can help you learn about what their needs may be during this time.” (Bendici, 2020)
  • Some rules still apply. “Such as when you’re in your classroom, make sure all content you use with students comes from a culturally responsive lens. Choose activities that benefit all students, not just a select few who may have the learning resources at their fingertips. Use activities and examples that reflect the faces of your students. Observe which online activities or resources are most liked by your students.” (Bendici, 2020)


Bendici, Ray. (Apr 2020). Remote learning and digital equity: Best practices. Tech & Learning. Retrieved from,terms%20of%20being%20prepared%20for%20the%20school%20day.

Deeper Reading:

Gallagher, Kate. (Sept 2020). Culturally Responsive Teaching. K-12 Resource By Teachers, For Teachers, K-12 Teachers Alliance. Retrieved from

Verizon Innovate Learning. (n.d.). Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Learning Online. Digital Promise. Retrieved from

Words Matter: Use Person-First Language

Crystal Dortch, Education Program Specialist

Person-first language emphasizes the fact that people with disabilities are first and foremost, people. Using person-first language conveys respect and describes what a person has, rather than defining a person by the disability. As an example, the phrase “disabled people” or “the disabled” stated using person-first language is “people with disabilities”. Similarly, a “handicap bathroom” becomes an “accessible bathroom” using the same guidelines. 

The Employer Assistance and Resources Network on Disability Inclusion suggests developing and communicating policies, like the requirement of all employees to use person-first language, as one of the easiest ways to demonstrate a commitment towards creating and maintaining an inclusive work environment (2020).


Disability Etiquette (2020). People-first language. Employer Assistance and Resources Network. Retrieved from

Deeper Reading:

Office of Disability Rights. (2020). People first language. Retrieved from

Self-Review Tool for Serving Students with Disabilities in Career-Technical Pathways

As stated in the approved Ohio Perkins V State Plan, the Ohio Department of Education’s offices for Exceptional Children and Career-Technical Education have collaborated on the development of a tool to assist school districts in the provision of special education and related services in the context of career-technical education. The Self-Review Tool for Serving Students with Disabilities in Career-Technical Pathways was recently finalized and formally adopted for use; many districts may have used the tool in its draft status in partnership with their regional State Support Team Career-Tech Planning District Consultants. The tool includes five key areas for review:

  • Career-Technical Pathway Student Recruitment Process
  • Career-Technical Pathway Student Application, Selection and Placement Process
  • Provision of Special Education Services
  • Continuous Improvement in the Provision of Special Education Services in Career-Technical Pathways
  • Federal and State Regulations Applicable to Serving Students with Disabilities in Career-Technical Pathways

The tool is intended to be used by diverse and comprehensive school district teams consisting of career-technical, special education and general education partners. The purpose of the tool is to ensure continuous improvement in areas such as communication with families, equitable procedures and practices, access and nondiscrimination, student support services, and adherence to state and federal law. While the tool is designed specifically to meet the needs of students with disabilities, many considerations can improve outcomes in access, engagement and performance for all students, including students who belong to other federally defined special populations.

If you are interested in learning more about the Self-Review Tool for Serving Students with Disabilities in Career-Technical Pathways, including guidance in completing the review, please contact your regional State Support Team Career-Technical Planning District Consultant, Amy Szymanski or Brenna Bartlett.

For more resources and information on the Office of Career-Technical Education equity initiatives please check out:

Equity in Career-Technical Education