Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) is chair of the Senator Democratic Leadership’s Outreach Committee on Rural Issues. NASDCTEc was one of twelve organizations invited to the U.S. Capitol to meet with the Committee to discuss ways to help rural communities meet their economic and workforce needs. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Roland Burris (D-IL), Jon Tester (D-MT), Ben Nelson (D-NE) were also in attendance.
Attendees at yesterday’s meeting discussed the critical importance of ensuring broadband access to rural communities to not only deliver distance education but also to allow individuals to work from home. Other topics of discussion included sector strategies and the role of community colleges in promoting rural economic development.
CTE has always played a strong role in rural America. According to NCES, about 43.5% of CTE is delivered in rural settings. I shared the story of Mosquero, a very rural high school in New Mexico. On average the graduating class is just four students. Four! So you can imagine what a challenge it is to provide robust options and opportunities for students. But Mosquero is doing just that!
With the support of a Microsoft Partners In Learning Grant, Mosquero has been able to implement an innovative program that gives the students exposure to a broad array of careers, empowers them with leadership skills, provides dual enrollment classes via distance education and fulfills important community needs. By using the Arts, A/V, Communications Career Cluster model as a framework, this community is developing talented entrepreneurs who know how to run a business, manage a budget, make persuasive presentations to a Board, and hire and manage staff. What these students have been exposed to and are able to do by the end of their high school experience rivals what most college graduates do even in the first years of employment!
Growing your own is a longstanding motto of rural America. Mosquero is investing in its youth and its future. Through the use of technology, community engagement, and innovative leadership, these students will be well-prepared for the 21st century workplace – no matter where that may be .