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Thank you for a great conference!

June 30th, 2014

A HUGE thank you for all who helped to make our 50th National Leadership and Skills Conference the biggest and best in our history.  What an incredible week we had! It would have not been possible without dedicated students, advisors, state directors, alumni, business partners, volunteers and staff.

We have our Opening and Awards ceremonies archived and you can watch them online here:

www.skillsusa.org/events/nlscvideo.shtml

Just a note, the Opening Ceremony videos are jumpy because of some connectivity problems in Kemper Arena, but it does eventually even out.

You can find listings of medalists here: http://skillsusa-register.org/rpts/EventMedalists.aspx.

Scores will not be posted until we have a chance to to get the data and material back from Kansas City. Watch our home page and it will be announced there. As a reminder, only the individual who competed is authorized to retrieve their score.

Thank you again for all you do every day to show the world that SkillsUSA members are true Champions at Work.

Kansas City Here We Come!

June 18th, 2014

This afternoon a huge tractor trailer left the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center here in Leesburg headed to Kansas City.  The truck was “loaded to the max” with NLSC programs, office equipment, electronics for registration and the Championships and every file and document imaginable to support our big event.  Some staff is already on site and more leave everyday headed to Kansas City.

This 50th NLSC marks what will be the largest national conference in our history with the largest group ever registered for the conference and the SkillsUSA Championships.  There will be dynamic sessions, lots of learning and growing and thousands of lives changed for the better.

Non-profit organizations like SkillsUSA don’t last 50 years without a dedicated team of hard working people who make great things happen every day.  And I realize, as does the board, staff and foundation, that this event continues to grow and impact more students and teachers for one primary reason – the outstanding work that you provide to your state association.  No student comes to NLSC without the encouragement of that special instructor, dedicated administrator and the leadership of the state director.  We salute you, thank you and look forward to seeing you in just a few short days.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in a few days. Safe travels to all of you and your delegations!

Executive Director’s Report: June 15, 2014

June 15th, 2014

Chiefs Career Readiness Initiative Launched
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states. The Council is unquestionably one of the most influential organizations in public education. It works to gain consensus among members on major educational issues and to express those views to Congress, federal agencies and the public. As an example, the CCSSO issued a report in 2010 on transforming educator preparation and entry into the profession. That report led to policy changes and reforms in 44 states to date. The Chiefs want to promote high-quality career and technical education, and they want all of public education to recognize the importance and role of CTE. The Chiefs have pulled together a small task force of 18 people who they call “the best people in the country” to draft recommendations for their report. On May 21, we had our first meeting of the Career Readiness Task Force. The group includes six state chiefs, three state CTE directors, two state leaders of postsecondary programs –including Board Member Scott Stump– two business leaders and five national experts. (That’s where I fit in. I am the only student organization representative on the task force.) Our agenda included a discussion on the economic imperative for our work and how to identify and support high-quality career readiness programs. I served on a subcommittee that discussed what kinds of things will spark student career interests and serve as student incentives. Not surprisingly, the work of student organizations came up in that meeting, and I wasn’t the only one talking about them. The task force members will be working offline during the coming months, and we have two formal meetings scheduled for July and September. The Chiefs want to deliver the report during their national conference in November. This is a great opportunity to work at the highest levels of education policy.

“A Common Framework for Employability Skills”
On May 22, Niki Clausen represented SkillsUSA during the U.S. Department of Education Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) webinar entitled “A Common Framework for Employability Skills.” The webinar focused on why employability skills matter and featured the Employability Skills Framework and website (at http://cte.ed.gov/employabilityskills/) and implementation strategies including career and technical student organizations. In addition to Niki, other guest presenters included: Sharon Miller from OCTAE, Kim Green with NASDCTEc, Steve DeWitt at ACTE, Laura Rasmussen Foster at RTI International, Pamela Frugoli with the U.S. Department of Labor, and SkillsUSA Board Member Kathy Mannes with American Association of Community Colleges. There were 320 participants nationwide. This presentation, as well as the archived webinar, will be available online. I also received a call that week from the U.S. Department of State asking if I would be part of a U.S. Embassy speakers’ program later this year. The embassy wants to help policymakers, employers and practitioners in a faraway country understand the role of technical education in preparing youth for employment. I’m in discussion with the Department of State. It’s nice to be asked.

Highlights

  • We received some nice quotes from students who were in the USA Science & Engineering Festival booth in April including this one from Laura Gouillon, SkillsUSA national high school vice president: “I am honored to have been able to give a presentation on the MikeRoweWorks Pavilion stage about how Varsity STEM, CTE, and SkillsUSA are revolutionizing the way students enter the workforce and prepare for their future careers . . . And, it was such an amazing feeling to teach individuals how 3D printers work and how our SkillsUSA members in classrooms across the country are applying our technical STEM and CTE skills through the use of such modern equipment.”
  • On May 15, Tom Holdsworth and I had a conference call with Hillary Wells, an executive producer at WGBH, the PBS Boston affiliate that produces two-thirds of PBS programming. Hillary attended the Massachusetts Leadership and Skills Conference with me earlier this month. She’s interested in many aspects of SkillsUSA including corporate support, the Championships and how it helps connect students with jobs and our membership, particularly at the high school and middle school levels. Hillary and two of her colleagues will be attending the national conference in Kansas City. She says she sees many areas for cooperation on projects and promotion. More to come.
  • Thea Phalon, the new executive director of the Pennsylvania SkillsUSA Council for Lehigh Valley, came to the national center for a visit and orientation on May 19. She met with staff during a reception first thing in the morning and then individually with department directors through lunch. She called the visit both “exhilarating and productive.” We feel the same about her.
  • On May 23, Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus sent a letter to President Obama urging him to establish a Presidential CTE Scholars Award program to recognize and value the efforts of American students who have chosen a CTE pathway. The U.S. Presidential Scholars program is 50 years old and was created by President Johnson to honor graduating high school seniors for academic excellence, artistic accomplishments and civic contributions. In the letter, the senators state: “It is our national interest to not only provide all students access to rigorous CTE programs of study, but to also encourage high attainment by CTE students.” They go on to cite successes of CTE including graduation rates “And, CTE students are competing in world class competitions to test their knowledge in ways no standardized test could.” Their sole example was the SkillsUSA WorldTeam earning a silver medal in Leipzig, Germany. On June 3, I sent an email as a constituent to Sen. Kaine thanking him for proposing the award program and telling him I’d welcome the opportunity to talk about our WorldTeam and SkillsUSA.
  • On May 27, I attended a reception for the National Research Center for College and University Admissions in Washington D.C. It was a great networking opportunity with people attending from the National Science Foundation, STEM Connector and several nonprofit organizations. The reception was hosted by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. I persuaded several people attending the reception to join us in Kansas City for the conference.
  • Massachusetts State Association Director Karen Ward was with us here at the National Leadership Center early in June to meet with Kim Graham and Steve Lake in the Administration and Finance office. They reviewed the state association financial system and looked into ways the state could align its reporting with national reporting.
  • Kim Graham is pleased to announce that all of the national office computers have been replaced and files transferred. It’s been a lot of work and Kim’s done a fabulous job.
  • Congratulations to Business Partnerships and Development team members Christen Battaglia and Carol Lowery for securing $20,000 in ad sales for the 50th Anniversary NLSC Awards and Recognition Book. And thank you, TECHSPO partners and corporate sponsors, for your support!
  • The boxes are piling up, there are multiple meetings in offices among the staff and outside calls buzzing as we prepare for the SkillsUSA 50th National Leadership and Skills Conference. The first national staff members will set up the base of operations in Kansas City on June 14. I’ll be joining them on the 19th and activities really get underway with the national officers on the 20th. It’s going to be great!
  • National conference registration will set a new record again this year. We currently have 10,207 registrants. Last year’s registration — which was also record breaking — was 10,000. And, 6,084 contestants are registered to compete.
  • Gayle Silvey is looking for volunteers to assist with Leverage training on Monday, June 23, from 10:45 a.m – noon at the national conference. Leverage helps students learn how to make proper business introductions and engage in meaningful casual conversations. Volunteers from business and industry engage participating students in conversation to provide real-life experience and help student practice what they’ve learned. Gayle can be reached at gsilvey@skillsusa.org if you and a colleague or two can help.
  • Marsha Daves reports that we have 28 national officer candidates this year.
  • And, if you’d like a smile and a really quick look at how exciting SkillsUSA is to students, just read a few of these tweets at https://twitter.com/hashtag/skillsusa?src=hash.

That’s it for now. We look forward to seeing many of you in Kansas City. There will be

Got Champions?

June 13th, 2014

At the national conference, the staff of SkillsUSA Champions magazine will be on the lookout for interview subjects and cover models.

If you know of a SkillsUSA student, advisor, industry representative or alumnus who will be at conference and whose story would be motivating and inspirational, please email Tom Hall at thall@skillsusa.org. He’ll then set up a specific time to meet with the magazine staff.

In addition, if you know a student who is going to the national conference and he or she could be a potential cover model, there will be designated “photo studio” hours. Please let Tom know, and he will contact you with the available times. Four students’ photos will be chosen to appear on SkillsUSA Champions covers next year. The remaining photos will appear in various materials, from the membership poster to other promotions. Our magazine staff looks forward to meeting your Champions at conference!

Executive Director’s Report: June 1, 2014

June 1st, 2014

A Report from the Road
From April 24-26, I participated in the NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) board of trustees meeting in Napa, California. It’s great to connect with some of America’s top commercial contractors. NCCER is sponsoring our national Carpentry and Masonry competitions, and companies around the table are all making contributions to the national contests. I was also part of a presentation on a new “Skills to Industry” program that will connect our construction trades graduates to contractor employment opportunities. And, I met new board members to start a dialogue about support for SkillsUSA at the state and national levels.

From California, I flew to Pensacola for the Florida State Leadership and Skills Conference at the Pensacola Civic Center. Board President, James King, met me there. The conference was a beautiful set-up with a huge stage and lots of exciting A/V and competition areas both inside and outdoors. Special tents were set up and wired for competitions from welding to TeamWorks. Another special part of the conference was a career fair called the “World of Possibilities.” About 2,000 middle and elementary school students toured the contests, business and industry displays and interactive demonstrations. From Gulf Power to Lincoln Electric, there were several partners engaged with the young students to teach them about career pathways. There was also a job fair so the public could meet with employers (while also seeing the Florida SLSC).

State Director, Tyler Kercher, and his conference team had a huge challenge when Mother Nature intervened and dumped two feet of rain in a 24-hour period. Tents had to be removed and contests moved to alternate locations. On awards night, the storm knocked out power in the arena, delaying awards by several minutes. Some schools were stranded at the convention center and conferees slept there because high waters prevented them from returning to their hotels. But, as always seems to happen in SkillsUSA, so many people stepped up to help that the awards were completed in grand fashion. Advisors, partners, Tyler, state board members and staff all pitched in to help those in need. It was indeed a great conference, and one that will long be remembered by all who attended.

From Pensacola, I flew back to Washington D.C. for a meeting on May 1 of the National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO), held in HOSA’s Washington, D.C. office. Representatives from the state directors of CTE and ACTE reported that Perkins is being discussed in Congress, but it will come behind other pieces of legislation, including the Workforce Investment Act. During recent congressional testimony, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was challenged by Representatives on why the administration hadn’t requested more funding for CTE. The Coordinating Council also reviewed the CTSOS.org website that SkillsUSA has been heavily involved in and gave us good feedback. All CTSOs had positive reports on membership and conference participation, and we reviewed new criteria for the definition of a CTSO and NCC-CTSO guidelines for inclusion in the group. These guidelines will be approved at the next meeting in July.

From D.C., I flew to Boston to meet Massachusetts State Director Karen Ward and her board for the 40th SkillsUSA Massachusetts State Leadership and Skills Conference. I arrived in time to drive to Marlborough and attend an incredible opening ceremony with approximately 2,500 students and teachers in attendance. The state officer team was amazing. National Officer Brittany Velez was the keynote speaker and she did an incredible job. The production of the ceremony, the ribbon cutting and VIP reception were second to none. Karen has a great team and a great board of directors.

Thanks to Washington DC-based STEM Connector, two representatives from WGBH—the PBS affiliate in Boston — attended the conference and they will attend the national conference in June. They were thoroughly impressed with all aspects of the Massachusetts conference and especially with the poise and professionalism of the student officers and competitors. Karen and I are hopeful that the visit will result in future regional and national coverage by PBS. They see SkillsUSA as a great story on filling the jobs pipeline and our competitions as a great way for students to display their skills to employers.

On May 2, approximately 2,100 students competed in the Massachusetts SkillsUSA Championships at Blackstone Regional Technical High School. It was a full day of action with excellent contests and lots of business support. Superintendents and administrators from across the state attended. The next morning, the trade center pavilion was packed with students and their parents for a grand awards ceremony. I spoke to the group. It was great to see so many parents there to support their sons and daughters in a crowd of red coats. Thanks to Karen Ward, Assistant State Director Kevin Lopez, the SkillsUSA Massachusetts board of directors and Brittany Velez for their hospitality and the opportunity to attend their 40th.

From Boston, I flew to Kansas City on May 6 for a special tribute to the volunteers and others who have helped us with NLSC for the past 20 years. Shelly Coates organized a great “farewell party” for these special people. From the bus company, to the hoteliers and city officials from the Kansas City CVA, it was a great time to honor them for their work and friendship during our two decades in Kansas City. During the time in KC, I was also honored to serve as keynote speaker for the Kansas City Metro Schools Recognition Luncheon. Byekwaso Gilbert has managed the KC Metro project for 14 years, and it was great to also honor him for his work with these schools in Missouri and Kansas. Students attending were local Metro student officers and state gold, silver and bronze medalists. The event was held at the Kauffman Center, and it was very nicely done. A great celebration for the city and the incredible students and teachers we serve. Rick Hughes from the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association (KCCVA) said “In inimitable SkillsUSA fashion, you put on a great event last evening! Thank you for the kind words, the wonderful imagery and your hospitality. Even in the dimmed lighting, you could see many glassy eyes in the audience. You will be missed!”

Highlights

  • Following up on the last Executive Update, Dave Worden reported that 325,000 people — including 180,000 students and teachers — attended the USA Science & Engineering Festival, April 25 — 27 in Washington DC. Dave said the SkillsUSA exhibit was nearly overwhelmed with traffic. Six students from C.S. Monroe Tech in Leesburg, two students from Thomas Edison High School and two students from Fairfax County Schools (all from Virginia) put on demonstrations illustrating STEM education in CTE. Three national officers also participated — Cole Fallis, Ohio; Brittany Velez, Massachusetts; and, Laura Goullion, California. Dave says that Walmart executives were pleased with the results of including SkillsUSA in the exhibit, and many additional new business and industry contacts were made. Special thanks to Niki Clausen for attending all four days and to Dave Worden and Jim Kregiel for pulling SkillsUSA’s participation together for us.
  • The 2014-15 membership kit will be ready to preview at NLSC.
  • A SkillsUSA 50th anniversary save-the-date postcard will be mailed soon.
  • A new SkillsUSA Alumni Newsletter is ready and can be found at this link.
  • The SkillsUSA FY13 Annual Report is complete. Get ready for some good stories about a few of the students and a teacher who are SkillsUSA. To view it online, go to this page.
  • With a little more than three weeks until our capstone event, Kelly Persons is pleased to report that nearly 50 cash and in-kind sponsorsare onboard to support SkillsUSA’s 50th annual NLSC. Welcome to our eight (to date) new partners: Delcam, FoldFactory.com Corp., NAPA, Praxair Inc., Safelite Fulfillment Inc., TIC-The Industrial Company, Walmart Foundation and Zep, Inc. A big shout out to five partners that have upgraded their support this year: 3M Company, Air Products, Asurion, Caterpillar Inc., and Hypertherm, Inc. A heartfelt thank you goes to all of our partners, cash and in-kind, we couldn’t do our work without them.
  • Please remember that a great way to share your excitement about SkillsUSA with colleagues and business partners is to invite them to Kansas City for an opportunity to see SkillsUSA students in action. Please contact Karen Beatty, kbeatty@skillsusa.org for assistance in registering your guests.

That’s it for now. Thanks for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.

Got Champions?

June 1st, 2014

At the national conference, the staff of SkillsUSA Champions magazine will be on the lookout for interview subjects and cover models.

If you know of a SkillsUSA student, advisor, industry representative or alumnus who will be at conference and whose story would be motivating and inspirational, please email Tom Hall at thall@skillsusa.org. He’ll then set up a specific time to meet with the magazine staff.

In addition, if you know a student who is going to the national conference and he or she could be a potential cover model, there will be designated “photo studio” hours. Please let Tom know, and he will contact you with the available times. Four students’ photos will be chosen to appear on SkillsUSA Champions covers next year. The remaining photos will appear in various materials, from the membership poster to other promotions. Our magazine staff looks forward to meeting your Champions at conference!

Executive Director’s Report: May 15, 2014

May 15th, 2014

STEM Demonstrations by SkillsUSA in Washington, D.C.
SkillsUSA students demonstrated aspects of their occupational programs during the third annual USA Science & Engineering Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C., April 25-27, 2014. More than 325,000 people attended, including 180,000 students and teachers. Six students from C.S. Monroe Tech in Leesburg, two students from Thomas Edison High School (Md.) and two students from the Edison Academy in Fairfax (Va.) put on demonstrations illustrating STEM education in CTE. There were demonstrations of 3D Printing/Advanced Manufacturing, Culinary Arts, Dental Assisting, Robotics and Welding. Three national officers were also in the booth – Cole Fallis (Ohio); Brittany Velez (Mass.); and, Laura Goullion (Calif.). Our national officers were featured on the Mike Rowe stage Saturday morning of the Festival where they delivered the 9 a.m. keynote presentations. Headliners at the Festival included Bill Nye the Science Guy and Mike Rowe.

It was nice that the opportunity for SkillsUSA to participate came through Mike Rowe and mikeroweWORKS. His office started talking to us about participating shortly after the June national conference. They thought we should be there. Our 10×40 exhibit space was next to the Mike Rowe booth. Mike also helped us make a connection with Walmart Foundation which gave SkillsUSA an $11,050 grant to cover expenses for the Festival and floor space in its exhibit. In the same pavilion were other valued SkillsUSA partners including CAT, Lincoln Electric, the American Welding Society and Universal Technical Institute.

Dave Worden said that Walmart executives were pleased with the results of including SkillsUSA in the exhibit and many additional new business and industry contacts were made. Particular thanks to Niki Clausen, Dave Worden and Jim Kregiel for participating and pulling the team together for SkillsUSA. Here are some photos from the event.

Highlights

  • On Tuesday, April 22, Natalie Crede and Malinda Lindimore, two HR executives from Safelite, an auto glass replacement company, visited the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center for a reception with staff in the morning. A little later, we took them on a tour of the Frederick Career and Technology Center in Maryland. Martha Lowry, the SkillsUSA school advisor, had her leadership team meet us at the door. We met with the principal, the culinary students served hors d’oeuvres, we toured the school and then students spoke on how SkillsUSA participation had changed their lives. It was a moving experience for all concerned. Safelite presented SkillsUSA with a sponsorship-level $25,000 check in what they said they hoped would be the first of many donations. The company is particularly interested in customer-relations skills because a lot of its work is done in customers’ driveways. Natalie and Malinda were very complimentary of the SkillsUSA brand and our leadership curriculum. Thanks go to Don Hermanek of IAA (Insurance Auto Auctions) and Russ Hoffbauer of State Farm for the introduction. Check out these photos from the visits.
  • On the evening of April 22, I addressed the GAERF (Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation) board of directors during its meeting in Washington, D.C. I spoke on our partnership with GAERF on the Skill Connect Assessments (which GAERF has now recognized as certifications for the printing industry), the skills gap and workforce shortages. Board members asked if there are ways we can work together on advocacy. They’re concerned because they’ve been seeing graphic communications programs closing. On a brighter side, I had a former CEO of a major printing company ask if there was anything he might do to support us in Ohio. Mike Cowles has already had his first meeting with the company in Dayton.
  • On April 10 and 11, I was in Jacksonville, Fla. to introduce Mike Horn of Pro Services at Lowe’s to Boyd Worsham, chair of our Carpentry contest technical committee and vice president of Haskell Company, a national contractor. We were joined by Don Whyte, president and Steve Green, vice president of NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research). The topic was how best to work with commercial contractors. This is one of those instances where SkillsUSA was happy to make the introductions.
  • While there’s no specific movement on Perkins reauthorization, we’re pleased to note that 94 members of the House of Representatives and 25 Senators have helped champion federal funding for CTE. In separate letters to House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittees, the large bipartisan coalition urged a strong federal investment in Perkins in upcoming appropriations bills. Thanks go to ACTE and NASDCTEc for their leadership and to Representatives Thompson (Pa.) and Langevin (R.I.) and Senators Blumenthal (Ct.), Baldwin (Wis.) and Kaine (Va.) for leading in their respective chambers.
  • Sales of Skill Connect Assessments are up by over 3,600 tests at this point in the year. We understand our customers are very happy with the support desk at K2Share and with the new delivery system.
  • We’ve heard great things about state association spring conferences including those in Ohio and Maryland. I attended conferences in Florida and Massachusetts (more in the next issue). And, you might like to see how Gwinnett Technical College in Georgia used their medallions and winners to get lengthy TV news coverage and demonstrations. See it here – http://tinyurl.com/kvzl9la.
  • I just returned from the NCCER board of trustees meeting in San Francisco, and I’ve had it confirmed that one of our students will speak during their Construction Industry Institute meeting this summer. Present will be owners of major construction companies.

That’s it for now. Thanks for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.

SkillsUSA Championships Contest Updates

May 14th, 2014

We have posted all SkillsUSA Championships contest updates we’ve received on our Web page. To view them, please visit this page and make sure the information gets to the national competitors. There aren’t updates in every contest. If new information is presented about a contest, the information can be critical to a student’s competition.

We’ve requested technical committee chairs complete contest updates by June 1st so the students can prepare. If they do add or change anything after June 1, we have to mail (by first-class mail) the information directly to the competitors. State association directors – please be sure we have competitor home addresses when students are registered for conference. If we don’t have home address information in our records, the information will go to the state association directors to be sent on to the students. After June 1, students should check their mail often.

Executive Director’s Report: May 1, 2014

May 1st, 2014

STEM Tour in Massachusetts
On Thursday, March 27, I was honored to work with Karen Ward and her SkillsUSA Massachusetts board of directors during their board meeting at Tri-County RTHS in Franklin, Mass. The state association has an impressive board made up of top school administrators, advisors and business leaders. I worked directly with the finance committee and with strategic planning for the coming fiscal year.

On Friday, we had an amazing experience at Minuteman and Diman Regional Vocational Technical High Schools in Massachusetts. Our friends at Dassault Systems got to see high quality CTE STEM programs with the SkillsUSA life skills training process directly integrated into the classroom and lab during their tours.

Thank you to the three executives from Dassault who spent the day with students, instructors and administrators in these two incredible schools. The experience provided a good snapshot of how our CTE schools teach STEM and integrate life skills training into the school day using SkillsUSA curriculum and chapter activities.

A big thank you to Karen Ward for organizing the visits and for all she and Assistant Director Kevin Lopez did to make it an outstanding experience for all of us. To the administrators who hosted us and the faculty and staff at Minuteman and Diman, thank you so much for taking the time to organize such an outstanding demonstration of real work learning, coupled with student professional development in action. It’s days like Friday that ground us and remind us of the incredible potential our students possess and how leaders lift up our students to be their very best.

And finally, our National High School Secretary, Brittany Velez, and all the student leaders we met on both campuses were the stars of the day. Thanks to each and every student who demonstrated their technical, academic and professional skills. They were all amazing. I hope this experience will help create stronger business/education relationships, and I hope it also gave the Dassault executives a good perspective on how professional, employability or “life skills” can be a key component in a STEM program.

Spring Conferences are in Full Swing
Shelly Coates and I attended the 50th Virginia State Leadership and Skills Conference recently, and State Director Deb Tripp did an excellent job of running it. Illinois State Director Don Bauc reported the Governor of Illinois attended his conference. Rhode Island State Association Director Josh Klemp reported the largest attendance ever with Governor Chafee and the chair of the state education board attending and speaking during the awards ceremony. SkillsUSA Foundation member Cameron Ferguson and past Foundation member Greg Rintala attended the California state conference and the state superintendent of public instruction in California participated. We’ll have more reports on state conferences as staff continues to participate in conferences across the country in the coming weeks.

NASDCTEc Spring Meeting
I attended the Spring National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc) meeting in Washington D.C. March 31 – April 3. Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier was a guest speaker at the opening general session. She announced she is leaving the U.S. Department of Education in mid-May. During public comment, I thanked Brenda for her service and for giving our students the opportunity to be heard by the administration. And, I encouraged her to ask U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan to continue listening to our students’ voices. Board member Scott Stump thanked Brenda and stated: “We have moved the bar as a solution to employment and workforce development in the country.” Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier has been a good friend of CTE and SkillsUSA and will be missed.

Secretary Duncan is visiting a CTE school each month. Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier and Secretary Duncan recently visited Worchester Tech in Massachusetts, a school with a very strong SkillsUSA chapter and the national principal of the year. President Obama will speak at only one high school commencement ceremony this year, and that school is Worchester Tech.

A report at the NASDCTEc meeting showed that 31 states had made a higher investment in CTE in 2013. And, 41 states had some type of legislation supporting CTE last year. This data came from a report co-produced by ACTE and NASDCTEc. It includes significant actions that took place last year and is categorized by state. Here is the link.

Regarding Perkins funding, representatives from both sides of the aisle and from the House and Senate spoke during the meeting. Some in Congress see early movement to get Perkins re-authorized (as early as October 2014) and others see a much longer timeframe, possibly even a continuing resolution that carries funding into the next election. Both agree it’s unlikely there will be a major overhaul of Perkins and that the funding amount will likely not be increased. There are many programs competing for federal funds – from medical research to job training – and new money will not be available, according to one appropriations committee member from the Senate. And, there is the philosophy (to which we agree) that funding should follow labor market demand and be aligned with business. We believe local business and industry advisory committees are critical to program alignment with business needs and credentialing – that is where SkillsUSA has always stood – and, where our hundreds of business partners have always stood with us.

There was substantial discussion about assessments and credentials for CTE completers. It was announced that national level assessments are priced from as low as $10 (Skill Connect is there) to hundreds of dollars. One state reporting over $2 million in their state budget for assessment/credentials, and several states are requiring CTE instructors to be certified in their field of teaching in order to maintain employment. And finally, a national clearinghouse for assessments and credentialing was discussed.

There was a constant stream of meetings and discussions of CTE and STEM. A wide array of federal legislation is moving forward to encourage students to enter STEM courses and several STEM organizations are emerging at national and state levels. It was mentioned that STEM in CTE is clear to us, but it is not always clear to those outside our education community. The CEO of “Change the Equation” spoke on behalf of the business community and stated that, in the current job market, there are 3.8 people looking for one job. But, there are 1.9 STEM jobs available for each job seeker. STEM occupations make up 11 percent of the workforce. (The Brookings Institution says 20 percent of all U.S. jobs.) SkillsUSA has STEM alignment as a major focus of our FY15 Strategic Plan.

 

Finally, it was great to see several friends of CTE and SkillsUSA recognized at this meeting for their continuous support. Representative Glen Thompson (Pa.) and Representative Jim Langevin (R.I.) were both present to receive the “Stars of CTE” Award. Thompson reminded the group there had been a $53 million restoration of CTE funding in January. And, during Representative Langevin’s awards presentation, it was mentioned how strongly he supports SkillsUSA in Rhode Island.

And two great friends of SkillsUSA were recognized as Stars of Education. Former California State CTE Director, Dr. Patrick Ainsworth, was named as a “Star” and current California CTE Director, Russ Weikle, was honored as a “Rising Star” at a special luncheon. Both spoke of SkillsUSA (and VICA) in their comments. Russ was a former VICA advisor and a former SkillsUSA director in California. Congratulations to both of these great friends!

Overall, the NASDCTEc conference was a great learning experience. It was really refreshing to hear congressional representatives, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Business Roundtable, the National Association of State School Boards and so many more praise CTE for the good work that is keeping students in school, reinforcing STEM education and helping close the skills gap.

 

Highlights

  • We have received a record total of 167 applications for the National Technical Honor Society grant awards and staff reviewed them to select the four winners.
  • The President’s Volunteer Service Award recipient applications have been reviewed and so far this year, there are 141 individual awards (representing 42,000 hours of volunteer service), 22 team awards (representing 23,000 hours in volunteer service) and two lifetime awards. Students will be recognized during the Opening Ceremony in Kansas City this year. This is a record number of PVSA winners, topping the 111 awarded in 2013.
  • Most national staff will be taking a bus to visit Louisville, September 3-5, 2014 so they can see the Kentucky Exposition Center and begin to plan for the 2015 national conference.
  • In light of discussion during SkillsUSA Foundation’s March meeting around the significance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education to career and technical education, please take a few minutes to read this interesting blog, Why Does STEM Learning Have to Be ‘Real World’? It is from the April 9, 2014 issue of Education Week.

That’s it for now. Thanks for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.

 

 

National Young Worker Safety Day: June 24, 2014

May 1st, 2014

National Young Worker Safety Day (NYWSD) kicks off Tuesday, June 24, 2014, at 9 a.m. at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City. As part of the larger campaign, “A Million Safer,” led by CareerSafe, NYWSD is targeted at making a significant and critical impact on decreasing the number of young worker injuries and fatalities in the United States. At the CareerSafe booth at SkillsUSA TECHSPO  (booth C), students and teachers will sign the pledge to “StartSafe. StaySafe.” just like more than 5,000 others who made the same pledge on NWYSD in 2013. Students will also have an opportunity to participate in interactive safety games and win great prizes that will further teach the importance of young worker safety training. In addition, students and teachers will have the opportunity to gather valuable safety materials and ask experienced CareerSafe staff about safety-related questions and concerns.


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