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Our History

Francis Tuttle Technology Center was established as a district in 1979, when members of the Boards of Education of Deer Creek, Edmond, Putnam City and Western Heights Public Schools each passed a resolution calling for a vote to form a vocational technical district. Patrons approved the measure and Board members were elected to serve “Vocational Technical District number 21.”

Since that time Francis Tuttle has been a mainstay in the strong support of Oklahoma’s economic development efforts. In 1984, patrons voted to pass annexation elections in the Crescent Public Schools, and Millwood Public Schools patrons did the same in 1995. In 2013, Cashion Public Schools approved annexation into the Francis Tuttle district.

The communities served by the Cashion, Crescent, Deer Creek, Edmond, Millwood, Putnam City and Western Heights Public Schools comprise the Francis Tuttle district, and patrons have supported the growth and commitment to quality since passing the measure to join Vocational Technical District No. 21.

Francis Tuttle works closely with business and education partners to address concerns specific to their needs, and in the community’s interests. Hundreds of companies train with Francis Tuttle each year, as well as thousands of individuals seeking a productive career, a quality lifestyle or simply a new skill.

Francis Tuttle is known as one of the premier technology centers in the United States. Accredited by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, some 40 career training programs are available to choose from. Francis Tuttle also provides more than 100 adult and career development classes each month.

Going back to 1979, the Vocational Technical District No. 21 district needed a name—one that would stand proud among peer institutions. The naming of the school after Dr. Francis Tuttle, Director of the State Department of Vocational and Technical Education in Oklahoma from 1967 until his retirement in 1986, was a clear statement that this district intended to make Dr. Tuttle proud.

Board member Suzette Northcutt-Rhodes noted “Thoughts of naming the District after Dr. Tuttle came from my observations of him at a meeting that I attended with him in California—it really impressed me the way people revered him, and how they revered the Oklahoma program of vocational education, and how envious they were.”

Dr. Tuttle had distinguished himself internationally as an innovator and pacesetter in vocational education, after realizing that a positive relationship between industry and education was vital for the success of both, as well as providing for a strong and diverse economic infrastructure. His progressive ideas about vocational education helped Oklahoma become a model for other states to follow.

To gain perspective on the impact that the Francis Tuttle Technology Center district and the CareerTech system have on Oklahoma’s economic development requires some historical reflection, and a brief look into the life of Francis Tuttle, the man.

A Technology Challenge of Worldwide Significance
In 1957, when Russian scientists launched Sputnik and created a “Space Race,” a mixture of fear and disbelief spread across America and around the World. America’s superiority in technology and education was challenged by that satellite’s weak, pinging signal, and U.S. leaders quickly convened to develop strategies to address this unprecedented technology challenge.

One strategy emphasized math and science in schools to prepare more scientists and engineers to design the equipment necessary for space travel (a part of the 1958 National Defense Education Act). Some may recall the “new math” that students were exposed to in high school. As history reveals, the U.S. successfully surpassed the Russian challenge, but on the way to the moon, it became clear that a piece of the puzzle was missing.

In 1963, the Kennedy administration established a blue ribbon committee to address the missing piece—a critical shortage of trained technicians—the equipment was developed, but there were not enough qualified technicians to alter, repair and maintain that equipment. The National Vocational Education Act of 1963 was introduced, authorizing matching grants to states to expand vocational education programs. States had to implement this new initiative in a manner that would work in their locale to take advantage of the federal funds.

Francis Tuttle was serving as superintendent of Holdenville Public Schools in 1957 when Sputnik changed the world. Shortly after President Kennedy made federal funding available, Francis was named as the first State Coordinator of Area Vocational-Technical Schools in Oklahoma, and the beginning of what is now Oklahoma’s CareerTech system was in the works.

Dewey Bartlett had campaigned for Governor on a platform of economic development, knowing that diversification and attracting new industry into the State would be required to accomplish long-term stability. Part of Bartlett’s plan was to develop an infrastructure that would provide for the training of a quality workforce for manufacturers relocating to our State, or expanding existing operations.

Serving as a vocational instructor and superintendent in several Oklahoma school districts, and while researching for his education doctoral degree, Tuttle realized that the needs of many students were not being addressed. He had wrestled with the challenge of providing quality career-tech programs at the high school level, and as a former career-tech teacher he was very aware of the expense involved with providing quality programs. The federal matching grant was the necessary catalyst to institute Tuttle’s vision, and with Governor Bartlett and a willing legislature behind him, the support and needed state funding to launch the system became reality.

Oklahoma’s version has been so successful due to the creation of a new legal entity—the technology center district—that consolidated existing tax bases to make the offering of these high-cost programs feasible for high school students, as opposed to each school district expending the resources individually. This concept was perhaps Tuttle’s greatest accomplishment, and is lauded as a model for school consolidation today.

With 29 Technology Center districts providing training for high school and adult students, as well as business and industry customers, CareerTech remains a viable staple as the economic development branch of Oklahoma’s education system by focusing on the workforce needs of the marketplace. Francis Tuttle Technology Center is proud to be part of the strong CareerTech system, as it is of being the Founder’s namesake school.

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© 2018 Francis Tuttle Technology Center
12777 N. Rockwell Ave Oklahoma City, OK 73142 • Phone 405.717.7799