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Executive Director’s Report: February 1, 2014

February 1st, 2014

The 14th Annual Strategic Planning Session
Staff broke into teams and analyzed data from the field and brainstormed solutions. As a result, we have a draft FY15 Strategic Plan in place. New areas of focus include strategic membership focus, building state leader capacity, focus on SkillsUSA as a skills gap solution and a connector to STEM education and SkillsUSA’s 50th Anniversary celebration. The organization’s work will center around nine macro objectives that rise to the board-mandated areas of focus and are inclusive of the new areas listed above. We took the draft plan to the State Directors’ Association Executive Council Meeting in Sarasota, Florida on January 29. Following state director input and staff review, we will develop the budget for FY15 and bring the plan and budget to the board for review and approval in March.

Meeting of National Coordinating Council
I recently attended the bi-monthly meeting of the National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO). Several very important reports were given.

The U.S. Department of Education has released a new Employability Skills Framework and made a presentation to the career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) regarding the content and dissemination strategy. We are very pleased that our employability skills curricula and assessments are in direct alignment with the new framework. The framework is also cross-walked to the Common Core Standards and Common Core Career Technical Standards.You can view the employability skills framework at: http://CTE.ed.gov/employabilityskills/.

ACTE and state CTE directors also announced good news regarding federal funding for CTE. An omnibus bill was released Monday and $53 million was reinstated to the Perkins legislation. This is only $5 million short of the funding level prior to sequestration. SkillsUSA and the other CTSOs were commended for the advocacy work to make this funding reinstatement possible. And, thanks to board and foundation members who accompanied our students on Capitol Hill last September, for their role in this effort.

ACTE announced efforts to position CTE as key to STEM education. Again, this aligns perfectly with our strategy to position SkillsUSA in the same manner. And, we look forward to working with ACTE and other CTE associations in moving the STEM/CTE agenda forward.

There are also other advocacy opportunities on the horizon. On February 18, we will be sending a national student officer to Washington, D.C. to meet with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier. This will be a listening session called “Youth Voices” to gather student opinion on the U.S. Department of Education’s goals. And, last week, more than 50 students and advisors from Ohio visited the U.S. Department of Education and provided their input to the new employability skills framework and other department initiatives.

And, finally, a letter has been sent to President Obama and signed by each CTSO national president, requesting an appointment during CTE Month in February. This proposed meeting will allow our student leaders to discuss the importance of CTE and the technical and academic knowledge they are gaining in their training programs, as well as the life skills gained through their student leadership organizations. We are hopeful this meeting will occur. We will also be announcing SkillsUSA Week during the second week of February (9th-15th).

Highlights

  • On Monday, January 13, select staff had a good meeting with Jennifer McNelly and her staff from The Manufacturing Institute. We are working together on digital manufacturing badges for SkillsUSA students’ electronic portfolios, on a “Youth Voices” campaign for manufacturing and participation in NAM’s Dream It, Do It program and for involvement in Manufacturing Day next October.
  • Moving forward with SkillsUSA’s strategic communications audit and with the help of Stratton Publishing and Marketing Inc., SkillsUSA conducted two focus groups on Jan. 20, with the visiting state officers and their advisors from Ohio. Focus group feedback will form the basis for the next step – a questionnaire to be sent to a sampling of students and teachers. The end goal is to have timely, high-quality and valuable content for our SkillsUSA members that better aligns with student and advisor needs.
  • In an effort to meet the needs of college/postsecondary members, a college/postsecondary task force meeting was held last November in which state directors, instructors and students from five states participated. As a follow-up to the task force meeting, a separate meeting was recently held with Tennessee college/postsecondary state director, Chelle Travis. Many items from the task force meeting were fine-tuned, and an outline was developed to produce a separate college/postsecondary membership kit.
  • SkillsUSA held a Common Core Task Force meeting on January 20-22 in the Washington-Dulles area. State directors, teachers, teacher educators and CTE state directors from Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska and Rhode Island joined national staff to create a set of objectives that will lead students to become proficient in 21st Century employability skills. These objectives will also be aligned with the Common Core State Standards. 

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

Washington Leadership Training Institute

October 15th, 2013

The 2013 Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI) was the largest and probably one of the most amazing in our history. Capitol Hill visits will be reported in a few weeks, and they will set new records. In addition to the wonderful stories of the connections the students made with their elected representatives, we also heard so many stories about the patriotic connections that students made as they toured national monuments, experienced our wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and at the Pentagon 9-11 Memorial.

WLTI 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 the Association for Career and Technical Education, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, 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.

We’re still counting the number of congressional visits made by the students and teachers during WLTI and I’ll let you know that next time, but the reports from the state delegations are very complete and we are receiving excellent feedback about their visits. And, Niki Clausen reports that WLTI participants wrote over 200 notes to soldiers overseas during this year’s community service project.

SkillsUSA also enjoyed some good sales of the educational resources during WLTI. The booth enabled teachers to review materials and hear first-hand from other teachers how the materials are being implemented in local classrooms.

Washington Leadership Training Institute

September 15th, 2013

Materials, speakers and panelists are ready to go for the largest WLTI ever at 373 students, advisors and state directors from 30 states compared to 314 last year. Johan Uvin, the deputy assistant secretary at the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) at the U.S. Department of Education will be our featured luncheon speaker and Robin Utz, chief of the College and Career Transitions Branch and Sharon Miller, director of Academic and Technical Education from OVAE will be our featured morning speakers. We also have some great panels coming together for the advisors and the students thanks to our friends at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the National Association State Directors of Career and Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc), the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the College Board, and Jobs for the Future. There are four new states attending and 14 of 15 national officers will be with us.

 

Highlights

September 13th, 2013
  • Marsha Daves had 26 Washington state teachers and administrators attend her Professional Development Program training session at Puget Sound Skills Center near Seattle on Saturday, August 24. The session was funded by State Farm and state director Bruce McBurney and Denny Wallace also attended.
  •  A SkillsUSA student and teacher have been selected for interviews during the nationwide PBS broadcast entitled “American Graduate Day” on Saturday, September 28. Also scheduled for the broadcast are short videos about CTE and SkillsUSA featuring John McGlade, Air Products, Glenda Bonds, an instructor at Cross Key High School in Atlanta, and Mike Rowe. For more information, go to http://americangraduate.org/grad-day.
  • We have the early results from his survey of 668 SkillsUSA Championships technical committees. He’s heard back from 157 individuals (23.5 percent) and hopes to hear back from as many as a third. Among the interesting responses he’s received (and bearing in mind they’re all preliminary): 80 percent of the respondents say they plan to transition to Louisville; when asked how well students were prepared for the contests, 48 percent said better than last year and 45 percent said the same; and, when asked if contests reflect industry expectations for contests, 45 percent strongly agree and 43 percent somewhat agree.
  • We’re starting to gear up for a new year in advocacy in Washington. Following the lead of ACTE and NASDCTEc, SkillsUSA has posted an alert and a sample letter on the SkillsUSA Advocacy Site so teachers and others can weigh in on the importance of restoring federal funding for CTE. Just visit http://www.capwiz.com/skillsusa/home/.

 

Advocacy Alert: Perkins Funding

September 12th, 2013

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.

Sample Press Release for NLSC Competitors and Participants

June 15th, 2012

A sample press release has been added to SkillsUSA’s advocacy site. It’s a template to be used by state association directors, instructors, parents and others to help get the word out to the media about the students who competed or participated in some other way (i.e., as a delegate, Courtesy Corps member, etc.) during the National Leadership and Skills Conference. The press release can be sent to five media outlets at a time.

The site can be reached by going to: www.skillsusa.org/about/policy.shtml and clicking on “advocacy site.” Please encourage your teachers to use and spread the word about this valuable tool. #NLSC12

Efforts for Perkins Paying Off; Still Work To Do

November 15th, 2011

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have released their allocations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012. Due to the advocacy efforts of the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), NASDCTEc and the entire CTE field, Perkins funding has been maintained in both bills. This is a great victory for the CTE community. However, level-funding for Perkins is not “in the bag,” according to ACTE. Negotiations on how to complete work on the appropriations bills are still taking place and we have to remind Congress how crucial Perkins funds are to our students, communities and businesses.

Read the full message by going to the SkillsUSA advocacy site, and we encourage you to send a letter to your senators and representative. Log on to the SkillsUSA advocacy and legislative website. Fill in your zip code and then click on compose your own message, and please construct a letter to send to your senators and representative to encourage their support of Perkins and other education and workforce programs.

Sample Press Release for Competitors

June 14th, 2011

A sample press release has been added to SkillsUSA’s advocacy site. It’s a template to be used by state association directors, instructors, parents and others to help get the word out to the media when they return from conference about the students who competed or participated in some other way (i.e., as a delegate, Courtesy Corps member, etc.) during the National Leadership and Skills Conference. The letter can be sent to five media outlets at a time.

The site can be reached by going to http://capwiz.com/skillsusa/home/

Please take advantage of and spread the word about this valuable tool.

Message from ACTE

January 14th, 2011

There is no better example of career and technical education (CTE) success than career and technical student organization students (CTSO). ACTE invites CTSO leaders and students to attend the National Policy Seminar, March 7-9, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. A special student rate is available. Join other CTE advocates to hear from national leaders, learn about education and work force development policies and join other CTE advocates on Capitol Hill.

As of January, the face of Congress has changed dramatically, and your voice is needed more than ever to help ensure your legislator understands the importance of CTE and CTSOs. New federal leaders need to hear from you to make the connections between their decisions and student experiences. For instance, House leaders are proposing a 20 percent reduction in education funding! Attend ACTE’s National Policy Seminar to let them know firsthand how this would affect you and your programs.

For more information and to register go to: www.acteonline.org.


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