Archive for April, 2010

Legislative Update: Education Jobs Fund, Financial Literacy Bill

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Contact Congress about the Keep Our Educators Working Act

As we told you earlier this month, Sen. Tom Harkin (IA) introduced S. 3206, the Keep Our Educators Working Act of 2010 which would provide $23 billion for an “Education Jobs Fund,” modeled after the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund that was established in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

I just returned from a meeting where we heard that Sen. Harkin needs help relating to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) and other Senators about the importance of funding to help states and school districts fund education jobs and provide on the job training during a time of financial crisis.

You can share with them the financial situation in your state and why additional funding is needed to retain teachers and other education positions. Please urge them to support S. 3206, the Keep Our Educators Working Act of 2010.

Financial Education in the Classroom Act

On Wednesday, Congressman Michael Castle (DE) introduced H.R. 5165, the Financial Education in the Classroom Act.  The goal of this act is to improve the financial literacy for students in grades K-12 by strengthening the existing financial and economic education section currently under Title V of ESEA.  The bill would establish a competitive grant program for states who demonstrate a commitment to bringing financial literacy education to their schools.  Subgrants would then be awarded by States to school districts who partner with groups in the community to achieve student financial literacy through the teaching of personal financial management skills and the basic principles involved with earning, spending, saving, investing, credit, and insurance.

By Nancy in Legislation
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Business and Industry Managers Dub Four Cs as Essential for Employability

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Traditionally, students were told that they needed to master the “three Rs” – reading, writing and arithmetic — to prepare for a successful future. Today, some education and business stakeholders say the nation needs to add what they are coining as the “four Cs,” which encompass more dynamic skills related to critical thinking, according to a recent survey.

The findings in the American Management Association (AMA) 2010 Critical Skills Survey address some of the same issues such as employability in a global economy – a significant area in which CTE programs aim to tackle. The survey, which was conducted in partnership with 21st Century Partnership Skills, includes responses of 2,115 managers and other executives in AMA member and customer companies about the importance of the four Cs to their organization. The business and industry input may provide more insight to the notion of career readiness – a high-profile topic in which education stakeholders across the nation are not quite aligned.

The AMA survey defined the four Cs as:

Critical thinking and problem solving – including the ability to make decisions, solve problems and take action as appropriate;

Effective communications – the ability to synthesize and transmit your ideas both in written and oral formants

Collaboration and team building – the ability to work effectively with others, including those from diverse groups with opposing points of view

Creativity and innovation – the ability to see what’s not there and make something happen

By Erin in Research
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ESEA Reauthorization Hearing: Standards and Assessments

Thursday, April 29th, 2010


At yesterday’s Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing, “ESEA Reauthorization: Standards and Assessments,” much of the focus was on common core standards, college and career readiness, computer adaptive testing and multiple measures.

In his opening statement, Chairman Tom Harkin (IA) stressed the need for high standards in part because the cost of remediation for students entering postsecondary is in the billions, and more than 50 percent of high school students entering the workforce do not have the skills they need to do their jobs. Ranking member Michael Enzi (WY) agreed that students need to be held to high standards that prepare them for college and careers. He also stated that it is important for states to use various assessment models that measure higher order skills and 21st century skills that employers value.

Regarding college and career readiness, Dr. Cynthia Schmeiser of ACT told the committee that they believe that college readiness and career readiness are one in the same – the math and reading skills that students need to enter their first year of postsecondary are identical to the math and reading skills high school graduates need to enter the workforce. This definition differs from NASDCTEc’s.  We believe that while there is overlap between the knowledge and skills individuals need to successfully transition into postsecondary education and into the workforce, additional competency will be needed depending on the path a student chooses.

During the question and answer portion of the hearing, much of the dialogue was related to CTE:

By Nancy in Legislation
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CTE Instructors: Meeting the Challenge of Expanded Expectations

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

What are the skills and knowledge that secondary CTE teachers require to respond to CTE’s broadened purpose of enhancing academic skills?  How do these teachers prepare students for an array of occupations within defined occupational clusters? In Professional Development for Secondary Career and Technical Education: Implications for Change, a publication by the National Center for Career and Technical Education, this document addresses the professional development needs of secondary-level CTE teachers, and the need to identify and deliver instruction that responds to students’ learning needs.

By Ramona in Publications
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Perkins Data Elements Defined in Postsecondary Data Dictionary

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

A Common Postsecondary Data Dictionary for Perkins Accountability has been released by the National Research Center for Career Technical Education, for use by practitioners, researchers and policymakers. A goal of the Dictionary is to  provide a standard in which all states can crosswalk their own data. Perkins accountability specialists in 12 states contributed to the Dictionary. These participating states were able to uniformly define many data elements that can be used to construct and report on postsecondary accountability measures required by the Perkins Act. 




By Ramona in Publications
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Strategic Efforts Urged in Addressing Low Performing High Schools

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

In Prioritizing the Nation’s Lowest-Performing High Schools, the Alliance for Excellent Education calls legislators to address the approximately two thousand high schools which account for half the nation’s dropouts.

The Alliance for Excellent Education states that “Effectively performing legislative triage now will yield economic benefit to the nation and to the millions of individual students who will graduate from high school with a diploma that prepares them for success in college, careers, and life.”

By Ramona in Legislation, Publications

Aerospace Industry Faces Shortage of Workers, CTE Offers Solution

Monday, April 26th, 2010

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s 2009 Survey of Aerospace Student At­titudes found that the aerospace industry has not fully recovered from jobs losses of the 1990s and is still facing a shortage of workers. Employment in the industry fell by over 600,000 jobs between 1989 and 2007, and approximately 26 percent of workers were eligible to retire by 2008.

However, degrees awarded for a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate in aerospace engineering have been increasing since 2000. The study also found that 92 per­cent of the students became interested in aerospace during the K-12 years.  CTE provides a great opportunity for students with an interest in the aerospace industry to explore this further in relevant and hands-on courses.

In related news, Representative Suzanne Kosmas of Florida introduced H.R. 5093, the Space to Schools Act which would provide incentives to retiring or displaced NASA employees with STEM backgrounds to pursue careers as elementary, secondary, or K-12 career technical education (though the bill uses the word “vocation”) teachers. This bill would provide eligible participants with a stipend of up to a $5,000 to be used towards obtaining licensing or certification for teaching. Participants who commit to working in a high need school for at least three years will be eligible for a $5,000 bonus. Having former NASA professionals in the classroom would be a great boon to CTE students who wish to pursue careers in the aerospace industry.

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Community College Offers Money-Back Guarantee

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Testament to CTE’s philosophy that education should prepare students to succeed in both college and career, a Michigan community college is offering students a refund if their education doesn’t land them a job within a year of completion.

A Time article released earlier this month, featured Lansing Community College, the third largest community college in the state. The college is guaranteeing a job to students who take six-week courses in the four most in-demand technical jobs in the area: call-center specialists, pharmacy technicians, quality inspectors and computer machinists.

The money-back guarantee is a pilot program and is to only 61 students, who may be vying for a job in Lansing where unemployment is at 11.7 percent.

By Erin in News
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Legislative Update: Budget Resolution, Veterans Training

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Senate Budget Resolution Markup

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad released his fiscal 2011 budget resolution (summary here) on Tuesday.  The resolution is $4 billion below President Obama’s discretionary spending request and includes reconciliation instructions to the Finance Committee to reduce the deficit by $2 billion in fiscal 2011. The Budget Committee held a markup of the resolution on Wednesday and Thursday. Budget resolutions are non-binding congressional blueprints that set spending and revenue goals and made budget deficit predictions. It would be up to the Appropriations Committee to decide which programs to cut the $4 billion from.

The Senate will next address the financial reform bill, so it appears the Budget Resolution will not come up on the floor for a couple of weeks.  Conrad said the Committee report would be filed on Monday. No word yet when the House Budget Committee may markup, but it could be as early as next week.

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Hearing on Post 9/11 GI Bill

On Wednesday the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing to discuss the implementation of the Post-9/11 GI bill. Committee Chair Senator Daniel Akaka intends to introduce a bill before Memorial Day to make corrections and improvements to the program. Witnesses from both the American Legion and the National Association of State Approving Agencies suggested the Post-9/11 GI bill should allow veterans to use benefits at institutions offering non-degree programs.

In addition to bills introduced earlier this session to address this problem, on Tuesday Senator Patty Murray introduced the Veterans Employment Act of 2010 which also proposes to correct this issue.   That bill would expand the Post 9-11 GI bill to allow veterans to use their benefits for training at non-degree-granting institutions.

By Nancy in Legislation
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The Love of Learning, Joy and Meaningful Work

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Joy – to “fill with ecstatic happiness, pleasure, or satisfaction.”

Gladwell photoIs this a word you associate your work? How many students do you think characterize their experiences in the classroom as joyful? Yesterday, I had the great fortune of hearing Malcolm Gladwell speak at Apple’s Education Leadership Summit. He spoke about the necessity of creating the conditions under which students and workers can produce meaningful work. What constitutes meaningful work and why is it important?

Gladwell argues meaningful work is“one of the most important things we can impart to children.” Meaningful work requires curiosity and a love of learning. It requires driven passion that is derived from the sheer enjoyment of doing work you love, work you believe has meaning and work you believe has impact. Gladwell shared three necessary conditions for meaningful work to exist:

1. Autonomy –Meaningful work is work that is autonomous. Autonomy, while often characterized as independence, is really about empowerment. Empowerment to be in charge of your own destiny and to make decisions.

2. Complexity – Meaningful work is complex. People are motivated by work that is challenging, brain-stretching and hard-to-solve. The process of finding a solution to a complex challenge involves accessing information and partnering with others; it means trying and failing and having the persistence and passion to push forward and try again. Gladwell framed it as work that is “beautifully difficult.” What a powerful description!

3. Connectedness between effort and reward – Meaningful work requires there to be a relationship between effort and reward. People are motivated by daily progress and movement toward a goal. Getting up each morning and knowing you have another shot at the challenges that face you is exhilarating to those who have meaningful work. The connectedness between effort and reward encourages curiosity and experimentation. One who has meaningful work chases ideas with enthusiasm and seeks out new challenges.

In summary, meaningful work = motivated, dedicated, happy (joyful) employees who are reliable, innovative and successful.

I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to do meaningful work each and every day. Do you? As leaders, what can you do to create an environment that promotes meaningful work?

By Kimberly Green in Research
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