The SkillsUSA Washington Leadership Training Institute definitely hit a new registration high with 371 attending representing 29 states and Puerto Rico. It took seven buses just to get the group around. We had some great presenters, including Johan Uvin, the deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) at the U.S. Department of Education and Robin Utz and Sharon Miller also from OVAE. We also had representatives from ACTE, NASDCTEc, NASSP, The College Board and Jobs for the Future talking about advocacy, opportunities and challenges for career and technical education. It was a great five days.
I met with the National Coordinating Council of Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) on September 12 at OVAE in Washington, D.C. This was my first meeting with LeAnn Wilson, the new executive director of the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). LeAnn told me she is impressed by the work of SkillsUSA and has even been using some of our videos in her own CTE promotion. She announced that the theme for the 2014 CTE Month will be “Celebrate CTE Superheroes” and ACTE has posted a number of resources online to promote CTE Month at: https://www.acteonline.org/ctemonth/#.UjNheX_hd2M.
Since 2010, Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act funding has been cut by more than $140 million and because of sequestration, Perkins will lose an additional $58 million for the 2013-14 school year. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a funding bill that restores recent cuts made to Perkins by sequestration and provides funding at the FY 2012 level. As of late August, the House had not released its appropriations bill for education and workforce development programs.
SkillsUSA, in cooperation with the Association for Career and Technical Education, asks that our constituents write to their Members of Congress to ask them to increase funding for CTE – back to the FY2010 level.
An alert and message has been posted on the SkillsUSA CapWiz site. To send a letter to your Senators and to your Representative, go to: http://capwiz.com/skillsusa/home/. Enter your zip code and the rest is self-explanatory. Please spread the word and take a few minutes to write to your Members of Congress and help CTE regain the Perkins funding it needs.
- Jonathan Irizarry , past national secretary and I met with other career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) on July 25 during the National FFA Washington Leadership Institute (WLI). FFA pulls together all of its state presidents for training and Hill visits during its WLI. SkillsUSA was invited to participate in student and educator panels with other organizations to discuss opportunities and concerns of CTSOs. In all, four student organizations participated and representatives from the Association for Career and Technical Education. Among the top concerns of the adults were engaging students, alumni, membership growth and finding ways to honor instructors. I talked about engagement in our strategic plan and Vision 2020. Jonathan did very well talking about leadership training at WLTI, state certified trainers, and training at national conference. He also talked about a day-long symposium he’d put together in Puerto Rico where he used the WLTI experience as a model and brought in local businesses to do the training. Students were engaged and networking too.
- The National Coordinating Council of the CTSOs (NCC-CTSO) met on July 30. Among the topics of conversation were high school redesign and higher education initiatives at the Office of Vocational and Adult Education; prospects for education legislation in Washington (parties are very far apart and likely there will have to be a continuing resolution to keep funding at current levels); and, creation of a NCC-CTSO website. The website project is being led by a SkillsUSA staffer. Also of interest, the CTSOs have compiled their membership numbers by state and by congressional district and produced state profile fliers to be used with their elected representatives. When we add up the members of all the organizations, it’s more than two million people. The fliers will be released later in the year.
- Videos of the speeches and presentations made during the Creating Pathways to Prosperity Conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in March 2013 are now available online at: http://tinyurl.com/l9oqaex. The video of remarks by Nick Pinchuk, chairman and CEO of Snap-on can be seen at: http://tinyurl.com/mwjxy9l. Remarks by a former Massachusetts student state officer from Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional High School speaking as part of a student panel appear at the 44:29 mark at: http://tinyurl.com/mwjxy9l.
- Former Collision Repair Technology contest technical committee member, Bob Medved, interviewed Mike Rowe about the skills gap on Collision Hub during the national conference. A copy of the video appears on the mikeroweWORKS website at: www.mikeroweworks.com/2013/07/mike-rowe-explains-the-skills-gap-at-skillsusa-2013/.
It’s February, so it’s CTE Month once again, a time for all ten of the career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) and related professional associations to talk about the value of career and technical education.
SkillsUSA Week is Feb. 10-16. SkillsUSA Week is a fantastic way to highlight all the great things your state association and chapters are doing. We have a lot of great resources on our website to help you plan activities for the week. Be sure and visit www.skillsusa.org/educators/skillsusaweek.shtml for tools to celebrate and publicize career and technical education. ACTE also has many resources to help you celebrate CTE Month at: www.acteonline.org.
When President Obama visited the campus of Northern Virginia Community College in June of 2011, he highlighted the importance of CTE for our country, and described it as the backbone of our nation.
He said, “I see a United States where this nation is able to out-compete every country on Earth, where we continue to be the world’s engine for innovation and discovery. I see a future where we train workers who make things here in the United States, and continue a important and honorable tradition of folks working with their hands, creating value, not just shuffling paper. That’s part of what has built the American Dream.”
That’s what we represent and what we stand for. What are you going to do for SkillsUSA Week?
Registration is open for the 2013 ACTE National Policy Seminar. This year, the CTE community will “climb the Hill” in March during the 2013 ACTE National Policy Seminar. The focus of the conference will center on how to overcome key obstacles, such as funding battles, and working with both sides of the aisle in today’s partisan environment to create successful CTE policy. For more information, go to www.acteonline.org.
From November 27 through December 1, I participated in the annual Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) conference in Atlanta. I was joined by staff members Heidi Walsh and Niki Clausen and national officers Brian Bradley (Ga.), Craig Swandon (Ga.) and Kaila O’Farrell (Mass.). The students did an outstanding job speaking to various stakeholder meetings and networking with attendees in our exhibit booth. SkillsUSA conducted six workshops and had good attendance at all of them. Workshops on chapter management, assessments and leadership were conducted by Niki, Heidi and me. A big thank you goes to Karen Ward, SkillsUSA Massachusetts state association director, for conducting workshops on Skill Connect Assessments and leadership development, and to Lana Ford for conducting an additional assessment workshop.
Board member Jeff Johnson, ACTE vice president, did a great job leading the trade and industrial division meetings and policy and planning sessions. It was also a great time to network with existing partners from education and industry. Greg Rintala, YDF member, attended and helped sponsor the conference, and I had good meetings with more than 12 partner companies and at least six more with prospective partners. It’s always important for SkillsUSA to have a strong presence at this annual event of CTE teachers, administrators and business partners.
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) has launched a new student contest for CTE Month- the CTE Month Promotional Poster Contest. It is seeking student’s best and most creative poster designs promoting CTE Month. The contest is open to all CTE students, secondary and postsecondary, and ACTE will accept submissions until October 19. After that six finalists will be selected and their entries will be posted on ACTE’s Facebook page. Anyone can then vote for his/her favorite for one week. At week’s end, whoever receives the most votes in each category will be the winning poster design.
ACTE is hoping to generate more attention for CTE Month. The winning posters can be used by CTE teachers, CTSO advisors and other CTE Month celebrants to promote CTE Month and social media advocacy week—being held February 11-15. Winners from each category will receive a prize pack including a copy of the Adobe CS6 Suite.
Here is the link to the contest rules on ACTE’s web page: www.acteonline.org/ctemonth.aspx#Challenge
- We can hit the membership gong! We have surpassed last year’s membership total. As of yesterday, membership is 302,720. That’s 1,337 ahead of last year and some memberships are still coming into the office. Twenty-six state associations have now exceeded last year’s totals. The most recent is Wisconsin Postsecondary Division, Dale Drees, state association director.
- The Louisiana Community and Technical College System (CTCS) has appointed a state association director, Jawan Ross, and is moving forward to reinstitute the SkillsUSA Louisiana College/Postsecondary Association. The association has been dormant for a year. Jawan was here in the national office on March 16 for some condensed and intense state director training. SkillsUSA welcomes Louisiana postsecondary back, and we’re pleased to hear the LCTCS director is talking about growing the association next year.
- State conferences are underway. The SkillsUSA Georgia conference was a webcast over two days. Representative Jim Langevin, co-chair of the CTE Caucus spoke during the Rhode Island conference. Among his remarks to the students: “SkillsUSA students are the future innovators and job creators for our country.” That’s a nice message to carry. Staff will be visiting 20 state spring conferences.
- On March 5, Bob Daly, senior vice president of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. stopped by the national office for a visit and to discuss opportunities to grow our partnership. Bob is also looking into ways Toyota and Toyota dealers can help support the CTSOs in California.
- On March 6, I was part of a panel discussion during the ACTE Policy and Planning Seminar in Washington. The topic was Measuring Career Readiness Skills: Existing Practice, New Developments and the Challenges That Remain. The concern is finding or developing assessments that are more “career ready” inclusive. Of course, I was able to say during my remarks that SkillsUSA has been teaching and assessing employability skills since 1965 and I spoke about the Skill Connect Assessments and the Professional Development Program. My presentation was well received. Johan Uvin, deputy assistant secretary of OVAE gave a presentation entitled “Perkins Act Preview: Obama Administration.” Uvin said the administration wants to “further improve CTE.” The focus seems to still be on improving postsecondary degree attainment with “at least one year of postsecondary education.” He went on to say OVAE has developed a blueprint for reform, but hasn’t released it yet and that the administration has chosen 2013 for Perkins reauthorization. There will be three major statutory reforms: strengthen alignment of high schools, postsecondary and employers; better accountability systems; and, competitive funding to promote innovation and state reform. Questions from the audience were direct and tough on all three areas, particularly on the competitive funding and Uvin’s assertion that CTE didn’t have data to back up its claims of success.
- I was the keynote speaker at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College/Caper Educator Institute’s “Education Challenge: Career and College Readiness” forum in Henrico, Virginia on March 14. My topic was “Schools Excel Through Student Leadership: Encourage, Promote and Prepare Student Leaders.” There were 210 administrators in attendance, and there was discussion about what it means to be career and college ready. I guess the speech went over well. I gave away all of my business cards.
- We secured a Google Grant for advertising on the Google website. When certain keywords are searched, our ads will appear at the top and in the column on the right of the page. The ads started running on a March 13, and by March 14, SkillsUSA had already received 40,000 impressions.
- And, I attended two outstanding state conferences in the past two weeks – Texas high school and Arizona. More details on these and others next time.
- Membership continues to run ahead of last year at 241,522. That’s 1,130 more than this date last year. Congratulations to the following state associations for exceeding last year’s overall membership. They are California, Clay Mitchell; Connecticut, Heidi Balch; Massachusetts, Karen Ward; New Jersey, Pete Carey; Pennsylvania, Jeri Widdowson; Rhode Island, Josh Klemp; and, Virginia – David Rathbone. Professional membership and alumni membership counts. Individuals such as industry partners and other friends not affiliated with a local chapter can join too online at the following link: www.skills-register.org/rpts/JoinAsProfessional.aspx.
- On January 18th, I met with the National Coordinating Council of Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) in Reston, Va. The highlight was to welcome a new representative from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE), Robin Utz. Robin is the chief of the College and Career Transitions Branch at OVAE and formerly served as assistant director of the Career, Standards and Assessment Services team at the Kansas State Department of Education. She’s very supportive of student organizations, having been both an FFA and FCLA advisor herself, and she gets the “big thumbs up” from Ann Wick, our Kansas state association director. In other news, a majority of the organizations reported that they’re having good membership numbers and conference attendance. The Association for Career and Technical Education and the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education consortium talked about the common core education standards developed by the National Governors Association and a roll out of curriculum addressing the standards during the Career Cluster Institute in June.
- We held a staff WorldSkills meeting on January 13 to plan SkillsUSA WorldTeam participation in Leipzig, Germany in 2013. A new management team has been identified and we have a lot of work to do for team selection, trials, training and fundraising. WorldSkills International has been notified of our new structure.
- I recently returned from Nevada where I assisted with strategic planning with the SkillsUSA Nevada board of directors and attended the State Directors’ Association Executive Committee meeting. More on that next time.