- The Youth Development Foundation Committee met through a conference call on January 30 to discuss major funding priorities. The majority of committee members participated, and we were joined by two new members, Taryn McKenzie of Delmar, Cengage Learning and John Kett of Insurance Auto Auction International. The next YDF meeting is scheduled for April 16-17 here in Leesburg.
- I had a great telephone conversation with SkillsUSA Champion of the Year and Snap-on CEO, Nick Pinchuk, on January 31. Nick says he’ll be making some high-level contacts for SkillsUSA, and he’s willing to travel on a couple of occasions this year to visit partners and high-value prospective sponsors. I also thanked him for his generous personal contribution to the Skills Build America campaign.
- As you may recall, I served on the National Assessment of Career and Technical Education (NACTE) Independent Advisory Panel. I recently received word that the interim report from the NACTE was sent to Congress on February 8, way ahead of any serious talk of reauthorizing the Perkins Act. The more comprehensive final report is due to be released in the fall of 2013.
- SkillsUSA was invited to help prepare hearings for a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on April 17. The hearing will be about the skills gap and how to address it. Our staff met with committee staff on Monday, April 2, to discuss the overall agenda, suggest additional witnesses from among our partners and what SkillsUSA is doing that can add to the hearings.
- On the legislative front, staff attended the National Coordinating Council meeting for the student organizations, and according to a report from the U.S. Department of Education, Perkins is not likely to be folded in with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and reauthorization of Perkins is more likely in 2015 than next year. In a related development, we also understand that Perkins funds are protected from being folded into a workforce investment fund as originally proposed. NASCTEc worked for the change and reports that Perkins is the only program that cannot be consolidated into the unified workforce plan. And, on March 30, Representative Jim Langevin, co-chair of the bipartisan CTE Caucus presented the 2012 SkillsUSA Rhode Island Outstanding Advisor of the Year award in Cranston. That‘s great visibility for SkillsUSA.
- On March 27, we had a webinar for state association directors on the expanded curriculum and changes to the officer training seminars held during conference, formerly called State Officer 101/201 and advisor training, but now called Leverage (state officers), Activate (chapter leaders) and Engage (advisor training). Seventeen directors joined the webinar and six more have asked for a reprise. Reaction was positive. There have also been six webinars on the Skill Connect Assessments focusing on general administration of the tests and on building student success with the assessments. And, staff reports that four states are using the assessments as part of their state competitions.
- We have 46 applications in for the SkillsUSA WorldTeam. The interview and selection process will begin soon. We also got the good news that Festo will sponsor our 2013 Mechatronics Team.
- Staff reports that the March 23 Chapter Management Institute held here at the national center was attended by 22 teachers from Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
- And, finally, the succession plan approved by the board last year has been reviewed by a local consultant sent our way by Tim Zilke of ASE. The consultant commended the plan overall and had some suggestions that we’ll implement soon.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- At the recommendation of Frank Carroll, former SkillsUSA board member, president, Bosch Power Tools North America and full-time SkillsUSA champion, we held a meeting here in Leesburg on May 26 with Larry Teverbaugh, CEO of K2Share and Robert Wagner, senior VP, Lowe’s and SkillsUSA board member. The agenda revolved around Vision 2020 and how we can employ the talent and influence of top corporate executives to reach those goals by tapping into their business acumen for strategic guidance – such as developing appropriate and responsive business models for SkillsUSA – and using their leverage appropriately for financial development. It was an excellent half-day meeting and gave the invited staff plenty to think about.
- Here’s the latest national conference by the numbers. Conference registration – even in these tough financial times – is up over last year to 9,647. A good sign is that state associations are asking for more hotel rooms. And, we have 5,745 contestants registered That’s more than last year even though we have two fewer contests. We have 79 SkillsUSA University seminars scheduled (74 last year) and there are 144 TECHSPO exhibitors, 30 of them are new. The 101 and 201 State Officer and Advisor Training registration is way up (over 70 more participants) this year to 269 participants from 25 states. SkillsUSA’s partners are giving away $100,000 in travel scholarships related to students attending conference.
- Stephen Gold, CEO of the Manufacturing Alliance, came by for a visit on the morning of May 16. Staff and I provided an overview of SkillsUSA and Gold oriented us to the Alliance. Several of our partners serve on the Manufacturing Alliance board of directors, including CAT, Air Products and Snap-on. Emily DeRocco and I presented to the Manufacturing Alliance board in Washington, D.C. on June 9. Gold sees SkillsUSA as part of the solution for the manufacturing pipeline issue facing the nation’s manufacturers. The Alliance has over 300 manufacturing companies as members. He will also be attending the NLSC.
- On May 18, I participated in the inaugural meeting of the National Youth Safety Advisory Council. Led by CareerSafe and supported by federal OSHA, the council is comprised of leaders from industry and education. Friends of SkillsUSA on the Council include CAT, FFA, Chad Maclin of Fairfax County (Va.) Public Schools, Dr. Chip Harris from Tennessee State University and Mike Raponi, former SkillsUSA board member and CTE director from Nevada. The Council will be sponsoring the first National Young Worker Safety Day in conjunction with our NLSC on Tuesday, June 21. The goal of NYSAC is to review current and future safety regulations and policies set forth by OSHA and to help determine the best ways to train and educate young workers including methods and data collection processes.
- Membership in the Alumni & Friends Association is close to 20,000.
- Lowe’s will have 13 vendor companies attending conference this year.
- There were 49 signatures on the “Dear Colleague” letter to support Perkins funding when it was sent to the chairman and ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Service and Education in mid-May. It will probably be one of many letters in the months ahead.
ACTE has launched a series of informal polls to engage CTE stakeholders in issues that are likely to arise during the next Perkins reauthorization and collect input to inform reauthorization positions. Please consider responding to the polls and share the link, www.acteonline.org/perkins_input.aspx, with educators in your state to encourage participation. A new poll will be added every few weeks.
- 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.
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and Participant Media have joined forces to advocate for Perkins funds. You can help by signing the petition and asking your friends and colleagues to sign today!
Over the past few years, the primary federal funding stream for career and technical education, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins), has been gradually decreased, despite increased student enrollments, equipment costs and need for skilled workers.
To sign the petition and pass the word to call upon Congress to fund the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act at no less than $1.7 billion in Fiscal Year 2010, go to www.takepart.com/pressurecooker/petition2.php.