I would like to applaud Newsday for recognizing the importance of science, technology, engineering and math -- the so-called STEM programs -- in our schools, and the close relationship between these programs and career and technical education ["New paths to science and tech jobs," Opinion, Jan. 9]. The programs provide students across Long Island with hands-on training and career preparation.

As chief operating officer of Eastern Suffolk BOCES, I can attest that students who are enrolled in these educational programs are well-prepared to succeed at work. The programs require a high level of academic performance and no longer focus solely on vocational training. As noted by state Education Commissioner John King Jr., career and technical education students now typically continue their education or training after high school.

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These programs put our students at a distinct advantage. Now, more than ever, employers are looking for employees who have a combination of professionalism, core academic skills and high-level technical skills.

Gary Bixhorn, Patchogue