Membership is now at the highest level in the history of the organization. We’ve sent preliminary reports to state association directors and will produce a final report of all memberships in a few days. Thanks to all of you for helping make this another historic year. Another interesting note is that membership continues to come in because of the advantage of joining to get the Skill Connect Assessments. And, as of this morning, we’ve sold 1,203 assessments.
SkillsUSA state spring conferences are going strong with high attendance and lots of activity.
I attended a great Arizona State Leadership and Skills Conference where I was able to present to about 200 local CTE directors and administrators, teachers, partners and administrators and speak to all students and teachers at the awards ceremony. I also had lunch with the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Horne. When Tom spoke at the luncheon, he praised SkillsUSA for our Work Force Ready System and also praised the national organization for our work with business and industry partners. Our SkillsUSA state management team in Arizona is one of the nation’s best.
Next, I was off to the New Mexico State Leadership and Skills Conference held at the Central New Mexico Community College. State association director Saundra Castillo did a great job. I’ll report my Wisconsin and Ohio experiences next time. A quick check of my calendar tells me that’ll be it for state conferences this spring. Of course, I’m not the only one visiting the states. Another staffer recently returned from the South Dakota state conference, Staff also attended Indiana’s state conference and Tennessee’s state conference.
I want to again express SkillsUSA’s appreciation to the Youth Development Foundation members who stepped up to sign a letter to the Obama administration and to Congress to show their support. The letter was sent by ACTE and a final copy can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/cwwfxe.
ACTE developed a release and then our communications office sent it through VOCUS to education trades. Education Week wrote about it. A link to the article follows: http://tinyurl.com/cmzsxp
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.
- We recently heard some great news from Connecticut state director Heidi Balch. Heidi reported that the Connecticut State Board of Education recently approved the Connecticut Technical High School System board subcommittee’s recommendation to add the district’s eleventh grade Career Development course as a one-credit graduation requirement. The Career Development course is SkillsUSA’s Professional Development Program (PDP) curriculum. Their Career Development “is a sequence of ten units that provides students opportunities to develop essential skills to excel in the SkillsUSA competition but, more importantly, be prepared for entry-level employment and to meet the established criteria for the required senior trade technology portfolio.”
- The communications department sent an overall WorldSkills Competition/SkillsUSA WorldTeam release to 864 business and education print reporters, 1,906 radio and television news stations (local and regional) and 362 education trade magazines on April 9. The release appears on our Web site at http://skillsusa.org/downloads/PDF/pressreleases/worldteam09.pdf. We had an immediate phone call from the Lars Larson radio show, and I did a 10-minute live interview with Lars on “Live with Lars” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 10.
This year’s conference entertainment activities/locations have been posted on our Web page. To view the options, schedules and prices, please go to: www.skillsusa.org/events/nlscdontmiss.shtml.
SkillsUSA Champions magazine is now an “e‑zine” in addition to the print edition you receive in the mail. Premiering with the summer issue, the digital publication looks just like our award‑winning magazine. You can even “flip” the pages.
In this new format, SkillsUSA Champions is instantly accessible whenever you are online. Your advisors can preview it before their students receive their copies in the mail, and they can easily share our magazine with their students, parents and supporters. And, everyone can now see the sponsors who advertise in the magazine and support SkillsUSA programs. E‑mail and Web links are active, and we can embed video as well. For example, the Army National Guard, which sponsored the digital conversion of this issue, has embedded a video in its ad for a new educational program.
Take a look now at: http://www.skillsusa.org/champions/.
This Web page has the link to the new e-zine as well as an advisor’s lesson plan relating to the issue. Back issues are available there as well, in the old format, while subsequent issues will be in the new format. Please send your reactions via e-mail to the editor, Tom Hall, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have posted many SkillsUSA Championships contest updates on our Web page. To view them, please visit www.skillsusa.org/compete/updates.shtml.
This year at the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, SkillsUSA will recognize all 100% advisors at a reception. Advisors should RSVP to Sandy Moore at email@example.com or by phone to 703-737-0604 if they plan to attend. The reception will be held on June 24 from 12 noon to 1 p.m. in Bartle Hall, Room 2502 A&B and is sponsored by Paxton/ Patterson, LLC.
The SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends Association is offering two annual merit-based $500 scholarships to two qualifying students. The $500 scholarships will recognize qualities in SkillsUSA students including leadership, commitment to community service, improving the image of career and technical education, and improving the image of his/her chosen occupation.
The scholarship winners will be announced during the NLSC in Kansas City in June. The scholarships are open to all current SkillsUSA members who will be attending a college/postsecondary training program in 2009-10. A nomination form can be downloaded from www.skillsusa.org/supporters/alumnischolar.shtml. The nominations deadline is May 15, 2009.