November 15th, 2010
On October 25 – 27, I met with thought leaders from a who’s who list of American education and service organizations – including the military – during the Army’s Strengthening America’s Youth (SAY) conference at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. Among the organizations represented were the National Governors Association, National Association of State Boards of Education and the National Guidance Counselor’s Association. Leading SAY is Lieutenant General Benjamin Freakley who attended the SkillsUSA national conference two years ago. Freakley invited the groups to meet together to find ways to address youth issues in a coordinated fashion.
One of the initiatives where SkillsUSA will be involved is called Project PASS (Partnerships for ALL Students’ Success) a dropout prevention and intervention strategy, developed by the National Association of State Boards of Education. The Army and five states including Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Kansas and Mississippi. Project PASS will work in both middle schools and high schools and involve parents as well as students. This is another way SkillsUSA can reach toward the Vision 2020 goal of helping one million people annually, and I commend the Army for its leadership.
November 15th, 2010
While I was in Kansas City, a staffer represented SkillsUSA during the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc) fall meeting in Baltimore. NASDCTEc meeting agendas are always packed with great information. The first half of this conference focused on leading strategic change and was very much in line with SkillsUSA’s own Vision 2020 when looking at the acceleration of change around us. (Here’s an interesting factoid from workshop leader Langdon Morris to illustrate the rate of change: An iPod – if it had existed in 1976 – would have cost $3.2 billion and would have taken up an entire computer room.)
The second half of the conference got down to specifics on career and technical education including a presentation and a panel discussion by experts on a recently released study entitled Learning for Jobs: The OECD Policy Review of Vocational Education and Training. Simon Field, the project manager for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development cited several of the study’s findings comparing vocational education at the high school level in 34 nations. He began with the point that “The wealth of nations will come to rely more on the skills of their people than on other sources such as natural resources.” As a consequence, nations should be investing in vocational education and, he said, “The top priority should be bridging the gap between school and business.” When compared to other developed nations, Simon said: “The U.S. actually has a good high school CTE structure. It just needs to be used for far more students” and he spoke specifically of those students who delay postsecondary education until they are 28. One of the panelists, Robert Schwartz, professor of practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education, said he has changed his mind on the value of career and technical education. He said the applied method works and that CTE, when focused on a credential – not narrowly job specific – and including employability and occupational skills, is the way to build a society, not just workers.
Staff met with Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, as she began her “national Perkins listening tour” on CTE and we’ve invited her to national conference. We also broached the subject of a briefing at the Department of Education for the Youth Development Foundation Committee meeting to be held in Washington in April and was told: “Get me the dates.” Staff reports that Board Member Milt Ericksen was an outstanding master of ceremonies for the NASDCTEc sessions.
November 15th, 2010
State association directors have been sent a copy of the Week of Champions DVD. The DVD is being distributed free to instructors who’ve registered at least 20 student members plus one or more professionals by November 15 (value: $14.95). In addition, those instructors who’ve submitted a roster by November 15th with 100-percent membership plus one or more professionals will be receiving a SkillsUSA Program of Work calendar (value: $5.95). Both items will be offered in the Spring 2011 SkillsUSA Educational Resources Catalog that mails in January. Likewise, SkillsUSA members receive a subscription to SkillsUSA Champions, the official magazine of our organization. To receive all four issues during the school year, student names must have been submitted online or received postmarked by November 15.
The Week of Champions DVD is designed to explain SkillsUSA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference to those who aren’t familiar with the event. It can also be used as a tool to recruit non-members, to inspire current members to attend and/or compete and to encourage business and industry support. The 10-minute video contains footage from recent conferences and chronicles the major events occurring throughout the week, such as SkillsUSA TECHSPO, the Opening Ceremony, the SkillsUSA Championships, community service, the Awards Ceremony and more. This DVD is not to be confused with our annual “NLSC Souvenir DVD.” The Souvenir DVD is geared mainly toward attendees of the most recent conference and clocks in at around 30 minutes. The Week of Champions DVD is much more concise yet features more detailed explanations of each event.
November 15th, 2010
SkillsUSA has once again teamed up with the National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) to promote outstanding student achievement within technical education. SkillsUSA is offering four $1,000 scholarships through NTHS (two college/postsecondary and two high school), and these will be awarded at the 2011 national conference. The deadline is April 1, 2011. For more information, go to: www.skillsusa.org/students/nths.shtml