- Three new Skill Connect Assessments are available for field-testing and 150 more sites have volunteered to field test. The online order page has just been revised and simplified, and a review of the figures tells us that since the release of the first assessments, over 1,700 technical assessments have been purchased in 81 different schools in 25 states and Puerto Rico.
- I had a great meeting with Ed Roebuck, coordinator of CTE, District of Columbia Public Schools and several other DC officials. Participation in career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) has been written into the state plan. As a matter of fact, the way the plan is written, all students will participate in their respective CTSOs. District officials are committed to member development this year and lead advisor support. They’re interested in CareerSafe and the Skill Connect Assessments too.
- The new catalog for the SkillsUSA Store is in the mail. This is a new day for the look of SkillsUSA and supporting the brand. I’m pleased to report that 30 state and territorial associations took advantage of the state medallion offer this year.
- Bill Maddox, vice president, Service Management Group, N.E.W. Customer Service Cos., Inc. will be replacing Luke Kathol on the Youth Development Foundation committee. We certainly welcome Bill and wish Luke well. I’m sure we’ll be seeing both of them. N.E.W. last week delivered a check for $50,000 to support the SkillsUSA Job Board.
- And, levels one and two of the PDP Online are ready to go according to staff.
After months of planning and discussion – SkillsUSA and TSA (Technology Student Association) will be jointly establishing a program called the Engineering Alliance to Serve Project Lead The Way (PLTW) beginning this coming school year. We spoke of our decision while we were visiting with other members of the NCC-CTSO (National Coordinating Council of the Career and Technical Student Organizations) including representatives from the U.S. Department of Education. We had a very enthusiastic reaction from everyone attending the meeting and SkillsUSA and TSA look forward to serving teachers and students in pre-engineering programs in the 3,000 (and expanding number of) high schools and middle schools with PLTW. The program will provide leadership activity for local level PLTW integration and will encourage membership in SkillsUSA and TSA.
In other news from the NCC-CTSO, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Greg Cummings told us that President Obama is committed to pathways that lead students to prosperity and, in turn, will lead the nation to prosperity. He believes SkillsUSA and the other CTSOs do just that. He also said the areas the student organizations represent are areas of in-demand jobs, and he’s impressed by what the CTSOs do to give students a voice and power as well as the ability to lead. To top off the great comments in support of what we do, Deputy Assistant Secretary Cummings planned to come to Kansas City, but after looking at his schedule, he declined. He is making sure someone from the U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary’s Office will be with us, however. That’s exciting!
The CTSOs also compared notes on what’s happening with funding and support in the states. As many as six states report they’re having issues on funding for travel or continuing state-level activities. The CTSOs will be working together to overcome these issues. The up side is that nearly all of the CTSOs had increases in both membership and state conference attendance.
Check out the press release: www.skillsusa.org/about/engineeringalliance.shtml
Here is a Q&A about the Alliance: www.skillsusa.org/about/allianceqa.shtml
- We held a National Coordinating Council of Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) meeting in Washington on March 23 with transition staff at the U.S. Department of Education. It’s great to have the input. It was also good to hear that most of the other CTSOs are experiencing growth. As SkillsUSA has done, however, they are looking for ways to tighten their budgets. Also on the shared information front: those CTSOs that accept national conference pre-registration reported that their registrations are up slightly.
- The first eight Skill Connect Assessments were available for on March 16. After 2-3 business days on the market and a spring break in between, SkillsUSA sold more than 850 assessments and the orders continue to arrive. The most popular assessments thus far (not necessarily in order) are Employability, Welding, Cosmetology, Computer Maintenance Technology and Advertising Design.
- Staff held a National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) countdown meeting last Monday. It looks as though everything is on track. SkillsUSA University has even more sessions than last year. It’s logging in at 83 seminars and workshops. Staff is working with the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association (KCCVA) to arrange assignments in light of staff reductions at KCCVA.
- In state conference news, I attended the Maryland state conference in Baltimore County with Chuck Wallace March 21. It was Maryland’s largest conference ever. I was pleased to be the award ceremony speaker and to shake hands with all of the winners. On March 26 and 27, I spoke at the opening ceremony and the ribbon-cutting ceremony during the Texas College/Postsecondary conference in San Antonio. Stacy Scott ran a great conference at St. Phillips Community College in the Alamo Community College District. The conference was well attended, and there was good sponsor support including the Army, Air Products and Snap-on.
- In the news, staff reports that in comparing the first three months of news coverage from January 1, 2008 through March of 2009, our top three categories are state and local competitions, local coverage and trade sponsor related coverage. Local coverage (using our VOCUS system) is up 62 percent; state and local competition coverage is up 77 percent, and trade and sponsor related coverage is up 93 percent. A lot of coverage picked up in the last category is from the racing-related promotion.
- In news on advocacy, between March 27 and March 30, we asked our active advisors to contact their Members of Congress to ask them to sign a “Dear Colleague” letter supporting CTE funding. We know 95 people wrote to Congress, and that doesn’t count the number who called.
- Finally, I just want you all to know that I ran (and survived) a 10K race with my daughters in Richmond on March 28. There were 33,000 people in the race, and I was in the middle somewhere, so, I just had to keep moving.
The eight Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) have reached out to the Obama presidential transition team and the transition team has reached back. On January 8, I met with the executive directors of four of the CTSOs to compare notes on what we would like the president-elect’s administration to consider relative to career and technical education and the student organizations.
As requested by our contact on the transition team, we crafted a letter requesting the start of an ongoing dialogue with the new administration. It does sound pretty powerful when we say that we’re writing on behalf of 2.5 million students and 50,000 teachers in the CTSOs. The letter went out. The transition team wanted a face-to-face meeting with us but – given the level of security in Washington at the moment – it was decided that a conference call would be best. We’re optimistic and this is a hopeful start.