- On July 21, I had dinner with our new student officer team. They were just beginning nine days of training at the National Conference Center in Ashburn, Va. This is a great group of students. They’re diverse, highly qualified and they’ve already got their hands around their leadership skills.
- On the morning of July 18, I attended a meeting at The Manufacturing Institute of the partners in the Skills for America’s Future Program announced by President Obama in June. The meeting was hosted by YDF member, Emily DeRocco. We discussed a job-match service being provided by The White House to manufacturing and education to pull qualified workers into partnering manufacturing companies. We also started to develop our work plans and the quarterly reporting process. SkillsUSA will be working with Air Products to recruit students to manufacturing careers and to bring more partners to the process.
- In the afternoon I met with Bradley Hull, deputy executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Brad told me that NASBE had identified five organizations they want to work with on advocacy initiatives and SkillsUSA is one of them. His particular interest is in finding a common voice for the arts and career and technical education because we face some common challenges including being among the “first to get cut” when school budgets are tight. Our discussions will continue.
- July 12-14, I was in Atlanta conducting SkillsUSA Georgia High School Division board training and strategic planning. State association director, Gayle Silvey, has a great board and together I believe they came up with a good plan with attainable goals. While there, I also attended the Georgia ACTE Conference and met with all of the Georgia construction teachers. SkillsUSA’s great friend, “Sonny” Cannon, was presented with the Outstanding Educator of the Year Award just prior to his retirement. Sonny leaves a legacy including business foundations to support CTE and the model of how to use our national conference as a VIP event to capture industry and policy maker attention.
- The news coverage keeps coming in. We’ve now received a final report on news coverage in the greater-Kansas City area and we’re up to 85 stories. We were on the front page of the Kansas City Star twice. The “Money Pit” radio show (syndicated on 250 stations nationwide) aired on July 18 and featured interviews with John Gaal, former SkillsUSA board member from ACTE and the Carpenters District Council of Greater St. Louis, two national student officers, Mike Rowe and me. To listen to the broadcast, go to this link.
- Speaking of Mike Rowe, SkillsUSA is featured on the mikerowWORKS website with information on the scholarship winners from this year’s conference, and they’ve posted video streaming from the Collision Repair Technology contest area by Collisionhub. The host was Bob Medved of State Farm Insurance. To see the news and the videos, please go to: www.mikeroweworks.com/2011/07/bob-medved-interviews-pablo-fuentes-ceo-of-workers-now-at-skillsusa/. There’s also a video of Tina White of mikeroweWORKS. And, SkillsUSA also received a mention on the CNN Money/Fortune site in relation to Proven.com. The link here is: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/07/21/social-networking-for-bricklayers/.
- As mentioned earlier, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc) has been working for nearly a year on a new brand for CTE. Mark Williams, our new board member from NASDCTEc, introduced the new brand during the Call to Action session in Kansas City. SkillsUSA has been helping on the communications advisory committee (Tom Holdsworth was recently a co-presenter with the president of the PR firm that developed the brand) and the state directors’ website has now been updated. The slogan is CTE: Learning that Works for America. Presentations, talking points and other supporting materials for the initiative can be found at www.careertech.org under the tab “resources.”
- The Association of Career and Technical Education released a paper on how career and technical education student organizations (CTSOs) expand career readiness for students. The July 6 ACTE news release says: “National dialogue has escalated around the concepts of college and career readiness, but most of the focus has been on academic skills alone. Th[is] paper . . . concentrates on how elements of the CTE system support students’ academic, technical and employability skill development.” Among the bullet points: “Students who participate in CTSOs demonstrate higher levels of academic engagement and motivation, civic engagement, career self-efficacy, and employability skills than other students, and the more students participate in CTSO activities, the better the results.” The paper is available at: www.acteonline.org/uploadedFiles/Publications_and_Online_Media/files/CTSO_Career_Readiness.pdf. We’re pleased that the photo right up top is from the SkillsUSA conference this year.
- Planning is already under way for the 2012 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. We held our post-conference meeting on the 19th and we’re pulling together the top-ten list for improvements. On the 21st, staff was in Richmond, Va. to meet with the design team for TeamWorks to create the state association-level contest and our championships director is pulling together all the information and data he’ll need to take to the state association directors at their meeting in August to determine official and demonstration contests for 2012.
- And, finally, here’s a story from Springfield, Mo. about two Ozarks Technical Community College culinary students who were invited to cook for Sheryl Crow and her band along with her private chef just because they’d been in the SkillsUSA Championships. I just think that’s kind of neat. To view the story, go to www.news-leader.com/article/20110715/NEWS04/107150363/Students-OTC-cook-Crow-band?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE.
On April 18, John McGlade, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Air Products and SkillsUSA’s CEO Champion of the Year, was the keynote speaker during the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc) Joint Spring Meeting with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education in Washington, D.C. In attendance for the luncheon were Joe Pietrantonio, Lauri Gostley-Hackett, Diane Donaher and a representative from Air Products’ Washington, D.C. office. Two VIP tables were reserved for them during the luncheon and directors from the states where Air Products has a major presence were seated with them.
John’s remarks referenced his own connection to CTE. He frequently praised the work of SkillsUSA and Air Products’ partnership with SkillsUSA, and the importance of soft (“21st Century”) skills. His overall theme was that successful enterprises take advantage of changing times. John’s speech – and the presence of Air Products – was frequently referenced from that point during the three-day conference, including the presentations on the new brand initiative for CTE and both of the closing speeches by the outgoing and incoming presidents.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also spoke. His remarks were also quoted during the conference, but not happily. He confirmed not only that federal funding for CTE had been cut $140.2 million this year, but that the President’s budget would propose a cut to $1 billion in fiscal 2012, when funding has been at the $1.3 billion level for many years. Unfortunately, the federal cuts might also precipitate state CTE funding cuts as well. An advocacy campaign directed toward Congress is underway, and SkillsUSA and its partners are considered important parts of the coalition. There will be much more to come on all of this.
Also unveiled during the conference was a new brand for CTE. The slogan is “CTE: Learning the Works for America.” There are many nice features, talking points and some great statistics on the value of CTE. Items are to be available online in mid-May. They come along just in time for the advocacy campaign. SkillsUSA did serve on the select advisory committee for the brand initiative.
- The final official membership total is 320,287. That includes 300,302 student and teacher members and 19,302 alumni members.
- On April 27, SkillsUSA staff and Gayle Silvey, Georgia state association director, did a test drive of the SkillsUSA chapter registration software with a group of teachers from Middletown Middle School in Maryland. They also spent time on the website comparing SkillsUSA’s site to others and deciding what organization to join based upon their online experiences.
- Staff projects sales of Skill Connect Assessments might well reach 15,000 in May.
- Lowe’s has invitations out to 20 of its vendors to attend national conference. Staff reports some have already spoken of support.
- I’m sorry to report that Milt Ericksen from the Arizona Department of Education and representing NASDCTEc on the board has announced a job change, and he will be moving to the Arizona state agency that represents health and nutrition. As a result, NASDCTEc will be naming a new representative to our board. I expect to hear shortly. I personally thank Milt for all he’s done for SkillsUSA through the years, and I wish him well in his new endeavor.
- April 29 – 30, I attended ProStart, the competition of the National Restaurant Association in Overland Park, Kan. SkillsUSA and ProStart are going to be aligning our standards for competitions, and I hope doing much more together.
- And, I just returned from my final state conference visit to Florida. Carl Miller did a great job managing Florida’s largest state conference ever. SkillsUSA Florida also achieved the highest membership ever this year. Brandon Mullings, 2009-10 national officer, served as a keynote speaker, and it was great to spend time with him during the conference. SkillsUSA Florida ran 110 contests and over 3,000 attended the event.
Membership stands at about 298,564 and 30 states have now exceeded their membership last year.
On February 22, we sent an e-mail to our industry partners asking them to sign on to a letter addressed to the Senate requesting restoration of funding to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The letter was from the Association of Career and Technical Education, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, the American Association of Community Colleges and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Several of SkillsUSA’s business partners signed on too. There were 168 business and organization signatories overall when the letter was sent recently. This is the start of what will likely be a very active advocacy season.
On March 1, the Lowe’s Campus Improvement and Community Service grant checks were sent to 34 schools and colleges. The total amount? $324,800. There had to be a lot of people smiling when the checks arrived. And, while on the subject, we heard last week from Lowe’s that Georgia-Pacific will once again co-sponsor the Opening Ceremony of the 2011 national conference.
We held a Chapter Management Institute here at headquarters on February 22, a wintry day when some of the area schools were closed, but 14 teachers came from three nearby states for training.
On February 23, staff and I attended the Destination and Travel Foundation dinner hosted by convention and visitors bureaus from across the country. We were invited by the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association and also met with the Louisville CVB while we were there.
By popular demand, I’m a video again. Staff has created a four-minute video for the national office to send greetings to the states during their spring conferences. It’s available online and on DVD. I’m in there and so is the Vision 2020 message. I believe the video is quite effective.
On February 24, I went to Baltimore for a meeting with the mid-Atlantic region U.S. Army Accessions Command. There was lots of interesting information on Army recruiting and I’ll be putting our state association directors in touch with the command regarding opportunities to support and promote SkillsUSA in the region.
On February 25, Second Eden Studios conducted an energy audit on the National Leadership Center. The preliminary report was delivered to the board of directors at their March meeting. The final report will be released in June.
And, finally, staff worked with the national officers in Kansas City, March 3-5, getting ready for their roles at the national conference.
- Air Products’ John McGlade, CEO Champion of the Year, will be a featured speaker at the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc) spring meeting in Washington, D.C. SkillsUSA is delighted John will take the time to talk to the state leaders of CTE about their new vision for CTE, the value of CTE and maybe just a little about the value of SkillsUSA. Thanks to Laurie Gostley-Hackett, Youth Development Foundation Committee member from Air Products, for her coordination of John’s participation.
- In answer to proposed cuts to Perkins funding this year, and in support of both NASDCTEc and the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) urgent requests to contact Congress, SkillsUSA sent out more than 16,000 e-mails asking our professional members and technical committee members to call Congress. We’re getting reports back from the field. One said: “Our congressman said his office has been flooded with faxes and e-mails so he’s shut them down. Calling is the only thing that works.” It appears this will be a busy year for advocacy given the pressure of the federal budget.
- In an effort to encourage more U.S. participation in the WorldSkills Competitions this October, we have been working with the London organizing committee to offer special hotel/conference packages to our members. These packages would be available for five-night stays either at the beginning or end of the conference (from October 5-8) and would include breakfasts, admission to the competitions and to the opening or closing ceremonies, transportation to and from the airport and an excursion. The costs are approximately $500 (U.S. dollars) per person based on SkillsUSA registering at least 50 people. The organizing committee has put together various other hotel packages, and their travel agency will work directly with individuals who prefer to plan their own trips. Contact them by e-mail at email@example.com. All information regarding the competitors, the 2011 WSC schedule and the housing packages can be viewed on our Web page at www.skillsusa.org/compete/worldteam.shtml. Please direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Here’s a list of additional reports. The executive directors of the Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) held a meeting with Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary, U.S. Department of Education, on February 15 to discuss CTSO policy. We started the energy audit of the National Leadership Center on February 25 and hope to have a preliminary report ready by the next board meeting. The second half of the staff has now gone through (and passed) Red Cross CPR and First Aid training. Cindy Sutton, former YDF member and now executive VP of Earth Alive dropped by the office on February 7 with the two co-founders of Purple Heart Homes seeking advice for the start up of a nonprofit. And, finalists for the Lowe’s national conference pin and T-shirt designs have been selected. Lowe’s will be announcing the winners soon.