Archive for January, 2011

Secretary Duncan Hails CTE During National Roundtable Event

Monday, January 31st, 2011

On Thursday the Obama Administration hosted a series of roundtables on topics that were highlighted in the President’s State of the Union Address. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sat down to answer questions from the public about education issues. Among the issues that were raised were how to balance the reform agenda with state budget shortfalls, Obama’s plan for a new ESEA, how to foster critical thinking in a time of multiple choice tests, and college access and affordability.

At the 29 minute mark, a participant from Jersey City, NJ asked “Why have high schools abandoned vo-tech programs? Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, auto mechanics all make decent livings, yet our schools do not offer young people proper education in these fields. These are the kids who choose to dropout.”

Duncan admitted that the United States “probably did a better job in the career technical training 30, 40 years ago, and somehow we lost our way a bit there.” He went on to say that we need to invest in both the careers mentioned in the question, as well as new careers that are needed in this technologically advanced age.

He went on to say that the debate about college or careers is a false one; students need both to be successful. By giving students the choice of both college and careers as early as high school and middle school, we can help keep them engaged before they drop out, and help them to figure out the right path to reach their goals.

Secretary Duncan’s response was noteworthy because he used the term “career technical training” rather than “vocational education,” as he has in many of his previous speeches and statements. This shows the progress that Secretary has made over the last two years in educating himself about CTE and that he sees it as something beyond the vocational education programs of the past.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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House Budget Proposal Would Cost 1 Million Jobs, Say Democrats

Monday, January 31st, 2011

In a statement released on Wednesday, Senate Democrats estimated that the Republican Study Committee’s bill to roll back funding to FY06 levels would cost the economy one million jobs, despite Republicans’ campaign pledge to create jobs. Among the areas that would be slashed are:

“The Republicans’ plan would lead our country down the path to fewer jobs, fewer services for our veterans and small businesses and fewer opportunities for our students,” said Sen. Patty Murray (WA). “We need to rein in spending, but we need to do it in a way that will keep America competitive in the 21st century economy—and we can’t allow it to happen on the backs of our workers, our families, or our communities.”

The statement goes on to say that key education programs would be eliminated entirely, including “vocational training,” showing that Senate Democrats understand the importance of CTE in helping create jobs and a skilled workforce. Be sure to call your Member of Congress today to make sure they know how vital CTE is for turning around our economy!

By Nancy in Legislation
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Legislative Update: Budget, Jobs Hearing, ESEA, Fast Track to College Act

Friday, January 28th, 2011

House Republicans Set Budget Levels for FY11

This week the House passed House Resolution 38, which directs Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (WI) to issue budget allocations for FY 11 non-security discretionary spending at FY 08 levels or lower. The House approved the resolution by a vote of 256-165, with all Republicans and 17 Democrats voting for it. Allocations at FY08 levels would mean a 13.6 percent cut in federal programs across the board, and would result in a $9.42 billion reduction in spending for education programs from the current funding level.

Chairman Ryan is slated to provide the House Appropriations Committee with figures the week of February 7  that they can use to prepare a continuing resolution (CR). House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) wants a vote on the CR the week of February 14 before the current CR expires in March. President Obama is also scheduled to release his FY12 budget the week of February 14.

House Holds Hearing on American Workforce

The House Education and Workforce Committee held its first hearing of the 112th Congress this week, State of the American Workforce, which focused on the current state of the U.S. workforce and strategies to encourage the private sector to hire new workers. In his testimony, Gov. Bob McDonnell (VA) spoke about his state’s goal to graduate an additional 100,000 postsecondary students, especially in high demand STEM fields. During questioning, Rep. Bobby Scott (VA) asked if “vocational education opportunities” would be part of this plan, and McDonnell stated that two-year certificates and Associate degrees will help individuals obtain well paying jobs.

Administration and Senate Vow to Work Together on ESEA This Year

On a call with media this week Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, along with the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee’s chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), ranking member Sen. Mike Enzi (WY), and Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN), the ranking member of the subcommittee overseeing K-12 policy, said that they intend to move quickly and in a bipartisan manner on a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Some areas of agreement included: changing the AYP system, focusing on the lowest performing schools, advancing teacher evaluation systems, and disaggregating data by subgroups.

Harkin stated that he would like to have a bill ready for mark up by the Easter recess, and on the floor by the summer. He said the committee is going begin writing the legislation, without further hearings (the committee held 10 hearings last year).

Fast Track to College Act

This week Herb Kohl (WI) introduced S. 154, Fast Track to College Act, which would authorize the Secretary of Education to make grants to support early college high schools and other dual enrollment programs in an effort to reduce high school dropout rates and improve access to college for students.

By Nancy in Legislation
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NASDCTEc Welcomes New Virginia State Director Lolita Hall

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is pleased to announce Lolita Hall has begun her new duties as Career and Technical Education Director, effective January 3, 2011. Ms. Hall brings in-depth expertise in career technical education (CTE) program administration, extensive experience with agency policies and procedures, and experience with assessment and accountability in the division of student and school improvement assessment to the Department.

Lolita has worked for the VDOE since 1990 when she started as a state supervisor of vocational home economics education.  In her ten years in the CTE office, she provided leadership and coordination for the vocational special needs programs, development of the performance standards and measures for secondary CTE programs, High Schools that Work program, and served as a program improvements specialist.  In the latter role, she coordinated the Comprehensive School Improvement Institute for academic and CTE teachers and administrators, helped develop the state plan for secondary CTE, and worked with the development of accountability and monitoring processes and procedures for local CTE improvement plans.

 Lolita has served in the VDOE’s assessment division as team lead for the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) test implementation.  Her various responsibilities have included implementation of the NAEP testing program, monitoring local SOL assessment procedures, resolving test irregularity issues, redesigning SOL testing materials, and maintaining the master schedule for student assessment.

The Virginia Department of Education and NASDCTEc wish her great success in her new role as CTE director. Ms. Hall can be reached at LB.Hall@doe.virginia.gov.

By Ramona in Advance CTE State Director, News
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What Should College Graduates Know and Be Able to Do? New Lumina Report Provides Framework

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

What are the expectations of a student graduating with an associate degree? Or a bachelor’s or master’s degree? Answers to these questions are varied and may indicate a need for more clearly defined expectations for postsecondary degree attainment in the United States. This week, the Lumina Foundation released The Degree Qualifications Profile, a framework illustrating “what students should be expected to know and be able to do once they earn their degrees – at any level.”

The Degree Profile suggests specific learning outcomes that benchmark all associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. It also proposes much more extensive use of field-work and experiential learning throughout all degrees, aspects that are often present in career technical education. Through its framework, the Lumina Foundation encourages institutes of higher education to increase all students’ skills and experiences in analysis, adaptation, and application. The report particularly emphasizes its application component, describing the importance of “educational experience rich in field-related projects, performances, investigative essays, demonstrations, and other learning-intensive activities.”

The Degree Profile can improve the quality of learning at many levels and for many stakeholders:

While President Obama’s call to increase the number of college graduates in America has been widely publicized, greater attention must be paid to the quality and the meaning of degrees to be conferred upon a record number of students. To increase the quality of degrees at all levels, the Degree Profile helps colleges and universities to make changes in five basic areas: Broad, Integrative Knowledge; Intellectual skills; Applied Learning; Civic Learning; and Specialized Knowledge. Under each area, Lumina identifies specific learning outcomes for each degree (associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees). With the input of two accrediting agencies (Western Association of Schools and Colleges and The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools) and the Council of Independent Colleges, the organization plans to test and make adjustments to the degree profile. For more detailed information, please see the Lumina Foundation website.

By Kara in News, Resources
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State of the Union Focuses on Education, CTE Student Sits with First Lady

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

In his second State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama set a broad agenda for improving the economy and maintaining the United States’ status as a global super power. Calling this our “Sputnik moment,” the President urged Congress, private businesses and the American people to work together to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.

Recognizing that the world has changed and that a high degree is no longer sufficient to earn a family sustaining wage, Obama focused on the ways that education can help turn around the economy. First, he cautioned against “pour[ing] money into a system that’s not working” and highlighted the ways that his Race to the Top grants have reformed education through the adoption of new standards. He also stated that Race to the Top should be the foundation for the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind this year. Among the other education priorities that he addressed were: raising the status of the teaching profession, increasing the number of STEM teachers, making postsecondary more accessible and affordable, and training individuals for new careers and new jobs.

He also stressed the importance of community colleges in meeting the demands of out fast-changing economy and singled out Kathy Proctor, a student at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina who is earning her degree in biotechnology at the age of 55 because the furniture factories in her town have disappeared.

However, despite the President’s call for greater investment in things like innovation, education and infrastructure, last night he proposed a five-year freeze on non-defense discretionary spending beginning this year. This comes after House Republicans have pledged to return appropriations levels to FY08 or FY06 levels. So while we don’t know what spending levels will look like after the CR expires in March, it seems certain that there not be any funding increases this year.

On a brighter note, Brandon Ford, a junior at the Academy of Automotive and Mechanical Engineering at West Philadelphia High School was invited to be a guest in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box last night. Brandon was recognized for his participation in the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE competition, in which teams from across the globe compete to create production-ready, highly fuel efficient vehicles. Brandon and his team went up against corporations, universities and other well-funded organizations from around the world, advancing all the way to the elimination round.  Congratulations, Brandon!

By Nancy in News, Public Policy
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ACE Mentor Program Provides STEM-Related Experiences to Students

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

The ACE Mentor Program (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) is a mentorship program for students interested in careers in architecture, construction, and engineering, and provides students with early career exposure as well as scholarship opportunities. The program is a nationwide, bi-weekly after-school activity for high school students led mostly by volunteer teachers and industry professionals. Classes are regularly supplemented with guest speakers and site visits, providing students with real exposure to the field.

At a time when secondary to postsecondary transitions are in the spotlight, the ACE Mentor Program offers an impressive model of experiential learning in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related fields. A recent article, Mentor Program Introduces Students to STEM-Related Fields, examines the ACE Mentor Program of Greater Washington Inc., and describes the program and its impact on high school students across the D.C. metropolitan area. Program highlights included the students’ visits to construction sites, hearing about the experiences of a recent STEM graduate, and a discussion of building design.

According to teachers and ACE alumni, the program has been successful in recruiting students to pursue careers in architecture, construction, and engineering. A 2009 ACE Mentor Program survey of recent alumni (from 2002-2009) suggests that most alumni were influenced to pursue an ACE career path as a result of participating in the mentorship program. Additionally, there is evidence the program encouraged students to perform better academically. While the national high school graduation rate is about 73 percent, ninety-seven percent of ACE students graduated from high school. Additionally, while 68 percent of all U.S. high school students enroll in college, ninety-four percent of ACE students reportedly enrolled in college.

In the previously mentioned article, White House policy analyst Kumar Garg states, “Exposing students to different types of careers and how to get there has a powerful impact on their motivation in school and getting good grades, whether their interest is in science and technology, and what they do to get there.” The ACE Mentor Program is a powerful tool for students. Alumni bode well with a high graduation rate, high college enrollment, and student interest in the ACE field. ACE programs such as this may provide students with exposure and knowledge in areas they may not have previously considered, increasing interest in STEM fields and easing the secondary to postsecondary transition for students.

By Kara in News
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ED Stakeholder Forum: 2011 Priorities and New Data “Dashboard”

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

At yesterday’s Education Stakeholders Forum, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outlined the Administration’s education priorities for 2011. Chief among these goals is the reauthorization of ESEA. Duncan told the group that he met Rep. John Kline (MN), Chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, last week to discuss putting together a bipartisan bill. Duncan stated that there are many areas where the two agreed, including a smaller federal role in education, flexibility at the local level (but a high national bar), growth models, research and development, and broadening the curriculum beyond reading and math. Duncan conceded that “there are a whole host of reasons” why reauthorization may not happen this year, but he is optimistic that it will.

Second, the President intends to place a big emphasis on the importance of education in his State of the Union speech tonight. Third, despite the importance of education, the Department understands that states and local districts are in a position of having to make very tough cuts, and the Department would like to help states and locals make the best decisions they can.

Fourth, the Department has made postsecondary access and affordability a priority in 2010 and intends to continue that in 2011. They have already simplified the FAFSA forms and have announced applications of the Community College and Career Training Grants. The Department is also pushing for higher Pell grant maximum awards.

And finally, Duncan and other Department officials unveiled the “United States Education Dashboard,” a website that compiles a number of indicators that they believe give a holistic, big picture view of education in the United States and that are related to the President’s goals for education reform. The Department hopes that these indicators will help them find the gaps in the data and allow them to invest more in these areas. The Dashboard will also serve to inform policies and can be used to determine the most impactful interventions.

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Republicans Propose Tech Prep Cuts

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

On Thursday Rep. Jim Jordan (OH), head of the Republican Study Committee, introduced the Spending Reduction Act of 2011, which aims to reduce federal spending by $2.5 trillion by 2021. This bill first proposes setting FY11 non-security spending levels at FY08 levels, and thereafter setting FY12 to FY21 levels at FY06 levels.

Second, the bill would repeal or eliminate a variety of programs in an effort to reduce the deficit. One of the programs slated for repeal is Title II of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. While President Obama last year proposed consolidating Title II Tech Prep funding into the Title I Basic State Grants, this bill would eliminate that funding.

Among the programs singled out for rescission are those in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which includes the Community College and Career Training Grants that were just announced by the Administration last week. The bill would also rescind unobligated funds made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which includes funding for Race to the Top and the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.

While this bill may pass the House due to the new Republican majority that has made deficit reduction a major priority, it is unlikely to pass the Democratically-controlled Senate. However, NASDCTEc will be watching this bill closely and will be advocating on the Hill for maintaining Perkins funding. But we may need your help! If the bill progresses through the House, we will likely contact you for state specific information on the impact of cutting Tech Prep funding, and may need your help in contacting key members of Congress that represent your state or district.

By Nancy in Legislation
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Legislative Update: ESEA, Appropriations, Senate Retirements

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Sen. Harkin Plans to Draft ESEA This Spring

Senator Tom Harkin (IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has announced that he hopes to have a draft of the ESEA reauthorization bill by the time the Senate recesses in April, with plans to bring it to the floor in late spring. Senator Michael Enzi (WY), Ranking Member of the committee, has not committed to this timeline, but his office has said that “a bipartisan bill remains a top priority.”

Harkin will be getting help this session from Sen. Jeff Bingaman (NM) who will take over retired Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd’s role as the “Number Two” man on ESEA reauthorization in the Senate. Bingaman’s focus has been on English-language learners, math and science education, high school reform and graduation rates.

In the House, Rep. John Kline (MN), Chair of the Education and Workforce Committee, has made it clear that he hopes to pass a series of smaller bills to address the issues contained in ESEA, rather than a large scale overhaul. It remains unclear how this will play out as both chambers must reach compromise in order to pass a bill.

House Names Labor-HHS Democratic Assignments

We told you last week which Republicans would serve on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, which oversees funding decisions for education programs. This week we have word on which Democrats will be on the subcommittee:

A Number of Senators Announce Retirements in 2012

Last week Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (TX) announced that she will not run for reelection in 2012. The senior Senator from Texas has served in Congress since 1993 and is a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services which oversees Perkins funding.

Sen. Kent Conrad (ND) released a statement this week saying that he will not seek reelection in 2012. First elected to Congress in 1986, Conrad currently serves as the chair of the Senate Budget Committee and is one of the Senate’s most powerful members.

On Wednesday Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT) announced that he would not seek a fifth term in 2012. Lieberman has served Connecticut in the Senate since 1988 and is Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Armed Services Committee and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee.

By Nancy in Legislation
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