Career and Technical Education in the Lead
Staff attended the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc) Spring Meeting April 8-10 in Washington, D.C. The report is that the mood among the state CTE directors and representatives from the administration, Congress and inside-the-Beltway experts was decidedly upbeat about CTE. There were at least three reasons:
First, the new administration is receptive and supportive of CTE. Dennis Berry, acting assistant secretary, Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) reported that he already had a meeting with the “triple crown” of the administration including the Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Office at their invitation to discuss the role of CTE in education and training. He said career pathways are a hot topic with the administration. He also said the administration is looking at the full continuum of education with specific aims in preventing school dropouts and moving students to higher education (including community colleges and technical training), and CTE has the proven track record.
Second, CTE has been gathering the data for accountability to show success in both education reform and education outcomes and, now, they have the results to swing around. All the directors were quoting their state research when they spoke, and they referenced the studies that are ongoing. And, OVAE presented aggregated data from the states that showed CTE concentrators (three or more courses) nationally are either holding their own or exceeding test scores of students generally. In some places, they’re way ahead. Two places where CTE really stands out are in the areas of preventing dropouts, and figures are also excellent for going to higher education and completing studies. The official figures will be released in May.
Third, the condition of the economy and the need for retraining throw a light of inevitability on CTE. As Tony Carnevale, director and research professor at Georgetown University put it: “The economy and education have finally run into each other.” He made several points following that assertion – including the turn around in college degrees from liberal arts to what are essentially “vocational education” degrees – to the fact that jobs paying a middle-class wage depend upon education and half of all those jobs now and in the future are taught by CTE. Many speakers referenced the fact that CTE is always on the cutting edge of changes in the economy.
Other big topics during the conference were the effects of the stimulus and recovery monies on the states particularly on education budgets, green careers and the federal legislative calendar among others. Staff says a big congratulation goes to Kim Green and her staff at NASDCTEc, and he enjoyed visiting with board member Wayne Kutzer throughout the conference.