CA PERKINS JOINT SPECIAL POPULATIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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Special Populations

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Our purpose is to develop the academic, vocational and technical skills of secondary and postsecondary Special Population students who elect to enroll in vocational and technical educations programs. Special Population groups include the following:

Nontraditional
Nontraditional refers to occupations or fields of work, including careers in computer science, technology, and other emerging high skill occupations, for which individuals from one gender comprise less than 25% of the individuals employed in each such occupation or field of work.
Promoting nontraditional career opportunities opens doors for every individual. It breaks the mold of old expectations and allows all learners to explore a wide range of career options in an atmosphere free from stereotypes about gender and jobs (Kansas State Department of Education, 1999, p. ii). Recognizing the important role that increased participation and completion in nontraditional occupations/training plays for the advancement of women, legislators mandated it as a performance indicator in Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998, referred to as Perkins III. Under Perkins III, states are required to raise learner participation in and completion of career and technical education programs that lead to nontraditional training and employment.
One way to prepare learners for the future is to recruit them into nontraditional programs and occupations. Women are more often the focus on nontraditional programs because the opportunity to earn higher wages exists in occupations that are commonly nontraditional for women. Women who choose nontraditional careers, and who successfully address potential barriers, have greater advancement possibilities, economic self-sufficiency, and career satisfaction. Occupations that are commonly nontraditional for men often do not yield higher wages than traditional occupations. However, nontraditional careers for men can provide increased job satisfaction and may yield a higher wage for them than their female counterparts working in the same career.

Economic Disadvantage
According to the Perkins Act, and individual from an economically disadvantaged family is one who is determined to be low income according to the latest available data from the Department of Commerce.

Learners who come from this type of background are likely to have damaging circumstances as a part of their life experiences (Carta, 1991).Therefore, low economics means that these learners are at risk for having difficulty with academic achievement.Not unexpectedly, economic circumstances can lead these learners to withdraw from school. Additionally, economically disadvantaged learners often withdraw from high school, and are less likely to enroll in postsecondary education (United States Department of Education, 1998). Moreover, high school graduates from low-income families are frequently unqualified academically to enter college and may not want to continue once enrolled (USDE, 2000).

Limited English Proficient
The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998 include limited English proficient individuals meeting one of the following definitions:

  • Individuals who were not born in the United States or whose native language is a language other than English.
  • Individuals who come from environments where a language other than English is dominant.
  • Individuals who are American Indians or Alaskan Natives who come from an environment where the language is other than English and where this has had a significant impact on their English language proficiency.
  • Individuals who, by reasons there of, have sufficient difficulty speaking, reading, writing, or understanding English that they may be denied the opportunity to learn successfully in classrooms where the language of instruction is English or to participate in society.
The Limited English Proficient (LEP) population, growing both locally and nationally, brings a rich cultural heritage to Career and Technical Education. According to the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Language Affairs of the U.S. Department of Education, 3.2 million public school learners were identified as limited English proficient (LEP) in 1998, a number that has doubled in less than a decade (Walqui, 2000). This burgeoning group of LEP individuals not only has a wide range of skills and English proficiency, but also has barriers to successful educational and employment experiences. These learners present unique and diverse challenges that mandate novel and creative solutions.

Disability
Disability is defined in Section 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12102) as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the individual’s major life activities, such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
More than 5.8 million children throughout the United States live with some type of disability (WEEA Equity Resource Center, 2000). As a result of these impairments, visible or invisible, many individuals with disabilities need support and services to help them in school, employment, and lifelong learning.
Career and Technical Education (CTE) has made a positive contribution to the quality of living for individuals with disabilities. It provides applied and active learning opportunities to make learning in the classroom more relevant to the world of work.CTE support services help many learners with disabilities make the transition from school to work, postsecondary education or further training.

Single Parent and Displaced Homemaker
A single parent is an individual who is unmarried or legally separated from a spouse, who has a minor child or children for whom the parent has either custody or joint custody, or who is pregnant.
A displaced homemaker is an adult who has been out of the workforce, working to care for the home and children, and often has diminished or hidden marketable skills; has been dependent on public assistance or the income of a relative but is no longer supported by such income; or is a parent whose youngest dependent child will become ineligible to receive assistance under Part A of Title IV of the Social Security Act, is unemployed or underemployed; and is experiencing difficulty in obtaining or upgrading employment (American Vocational Association, 1998, pp. 88-90).
Completing academic coursework and acquiring technical skills are critical for becoming self-sufficient and independent in today’s society. However, due to child rearing responsibilities and limited financial resources, single parents and displaced homemakers often have difficulty arranging course schedules and meeting the rigors of coursework. Professionals working with single parents and displaced homemakers should anticipate these barriers and identify strategies and resources for maintaining a balance between academic and personal life roles.