February 1st, 2012
We were proud to have 47 students and nine teachers here at the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center for the annual Ohio Regional Officer Training Institute (ROTI) from January 17-19. This is Ohio’s version of the Washington Leadership Training Institute with lots of leadership training and two visits to Washington, D.C. including the Smithsonian museums, the Holocaust Museum and the Martin Luther King Memorial (on Martin Luther King Day). The keynote speaker flew into Leesburg airport by helicopter. He is Toby Andrews, the 2001 Ohio state student president and now a captain and helicopter pilot in the U.S. Air Force. He came to tell the students how this same event changed his life a decade ago.
On Wednesday, January 18, the students and teachers began their day at Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. After lunch, delegations went to the Hill to meet with 10 of their representatives and both senators from Ohio. Three of the representatives are members of the House CTE Caucus and the students reported that most of the offices they visited support the Perkins Act. For the majority of the students, this was their first visit to the Capitol.
The ROTI wrapped up on Thursday, including a meeting with the Maryland state officers at the Frederick CTE Center. Congratulations go to Mike Cowles for a great event and thanks to SkillsUSA staffers for coordination and training. Check out some of the photos here.
And, as further proof of SkillsUSA advocacy, Gayle Silvey, state association director of Georgia wrote to report that on January 17, Governor Nathan Deal launched the “Go Build Georgia Campaign” at a press conference in the Georgia Capitol Rotunda promoting construction skilled trades in the state. There were nearly 300 business and industry representatives, legislators and education officials present. Also on hand were several SkillsUSA student officers and student members demonstrating their skills in carpentry, plumbing, masonry and electrical trades right on the floor of the Rotunda. The governor and First Lady of Georgia, Sandra Deal, met with the officers and toured the demonstrations. The students also met State Senator Jason Carter – grandson of President Jimmy Carter – who told them he believes in CTE and that “it is a source of motivation for students to pursue their dreams and follow their passions in life.” Congratulations go to Gayle as well. Photos of the event (although not of the demonstrations) can be seen at: http://photos.gov.georgia.gov/GovernorNathanDeal/January-2012/11712-Go-Build-Georgia-Press/21071439_fggtcM#!i=1675665969&k=43H5xVk
January 26th, 2012
CTE Month and SkillsUSA Week, February 5 – 11 are coming up. The news stories are already coming in. I’m seeing stories about school open houses, community service events conducted by our chapters like Fairfield Career Center in Ohio working to help homeless teenagers and examples of how CTE and SkillsUSA change lives.
Of course, CTE is even more than that. It keeps students in school. Ninety percent of CTE concentrators graduate from high school. That’s in comparison to the average national freshman graduation rate of 74.9 percent.
And, those students are preparing for the careers America desperately needs.
During his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday, President Obama spoke of the need for training and the need for education. I hope federal and state policymakers wake up to the fact they’ve got the answer on their doorstep. It’s called CTE. It needs their support through the Perkins Act and appropriations in Washington and in statehouses across this country.
CTE Month and SkillsUSA Week are great opportunities to tell your community and policymakers that CTE is learning that works for America. I’ll be sending more on that soon. Happy CTE Month.
December 1st, 2011
I attended the National Coordinating Council of Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) meeting on November 9. The big topic of discussion was the request from the administration to involve CTSOs in an entrepreneurship in education event next summer. President Obama has declared November “National Entrepreneurship Month,” but the intent is to do much more in the months ahead to promote innovation and business under an initiative called “Startup America.”
As I understand it, every federal agency will be asked to undertake some kind of activity on a Startup Weekend. The U.S. Department of Education wants the CTSOs – which are already holding entrepreneurship contests – to work together with Junior Achievement and possibly two other youth organizations to solve an education issue.
In addition, we held a lengthy discussion on gathering data from all of the CTSOs so we can begin to aggregate the investment and impact of the student organizations.
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.
October 31st, 2011
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.
October 15th, 2011
The Washington Leadership Training Institute was truly a first this year bringing together the students, advisors and the board of directors. I heard from many of the students and teachers how much they enjoyed the board, and I could tell by just looking that the board was having a good time too. The conference evaluations have been tabulated and on a scale of one to five (with five being the highest), the students gave the conference a 4.49 percent and advisors gave it a 4.65 percent. Comments from students included: “For my first time at WLTI, I feel very honored to have been here, meeting new people, learning new things and having the best time of my life” and, “Arlington and Pentagon, very moving.”
In all, we had 25 states and Puerto Rico, 174 students and 93 advisors and state directors. Most of the participants this year were attending for the first time – that’s great to see – and 184 of the participants earned their national Statesman Awards.
We’re still going through the state delegation Capitol Hill visit reports. We had many more this year because turning in a report was required to earn the Statesman Award. We also received a report from Jamie Baxter of ACTE and Nancy Conneely of the state CTE directors. They wrote saying that they had just visited the education legislative aide in Representative Joe Wilson’s office (R-SC) and how impressed she was. They wrote “she said she has never been more impressed with a group of students than she was with SkillsUSA. She said that the group was very professional and talked about Perkins funding. She went on to say “What they are learning is working.”
October 1st, 2011
It’s over and it went off without a hitch. There were 269 registrants from 25 states and Puerto Rico this year. We were particularly pleased that some of the states who sent delegations this year were new, or haven’t been with us for some time. That includes the states of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and West Virginia.
There were also some great guest speakers including our Saturday night speakers John Gallina and Dale Beatty, co-founders of Purple Heart Homes (and introduced to us by Cindy Sutton of The Social Eyes LLC), and on Monday Jennifer McNelly of the Manufacturing Institute. For the advisors sessions there were presentations made by Steve DeWitt and Jamie Baxter of the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and Nancy Conneely and Erin Uy of the National Association of State Directors consortium (NASDCTEc).
We also held the SkillsUSA board of directors meeting at the same time and both the board and the WLTI participants visited Congress in Washington, D.C. to convey the message that CTE is needed and funding is extremely important.
September 30th, 2011
On September 12 and 13, I met in Washington, D.C. with the Advisory Committee for the National Assessment of Career and Technical Education (NACTE). The committee is charged with research and reporting on the impact of Perkins IV legislation. The NACTE Final Report to Congress will be released in a few weeks. I wrote a significant portion on the impact of education reform on CTE and was also responsible for including language in the report about employability skills in reform efforts through career and technical student organizations.