On September 30, we took advantage of the fact that we had our impressive WorldTeam in town and conducted a series of meetings in Washington, D.C. each meeting was an exchange of information and – for SkillsUSA – an opportunity to talk about the importance of career and technical education both as learning that works and an important avenue to developing America’s skilled workforce.
Our first meeting was at 9 a.m. with Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House Conference Center. After introductions, Aneesh began his remarks by asking: “Who are the innovators here? All of your hands should go up.” His point was that the American economy is counting on people – particularly young people – from all backgrounds and all occupations to discover new and cost-effective ways to provide new products and services.
Several congressional offices were represented at a meeting hosted by the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus held at the Cannon House Office Building at 10 a.m. Here the discussion was largely about the team and the preparations team members had undergone (several mentioned the need to compete using metric measurement, different processes and different materials) and more detail about the WorldSkills Competition itself.
Following lunch at the Rayburn cafeteria, the team met at 1 p.m. with Sharon Miller, director, Division of Academic and Technical Education, U.S. Department of Education and additional staff. The lively conversation was again about the team and their contests and differences between how other nations prepare their teams – often training them for years – as opposed to how the U.S. team is prepared.
The last formal meeting of the day was at the Hart Senate Office Building from 2-2:45 p.m. with Thomas Showalter, research assistant for Senator Harkin (D-IA), chair of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Showalter was clearly impressed by the team members, what they have learned through CTE and where it has taken them in further education and in their careers. He told the students that aspects of CTE are being added to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and he wrote subsequently: “It’s meetings like this one with the team that remind me what our jobs on the Hill are supposed to be about.” SkillsUSA followed up with all of the people visited and updated the congressional offices on the team’s progress.