Leaders from three major education associations – representing key state policymakers and education leaders – discussed their growing interest and key initiatives related to CTE on Wednesday April 3 at NASDCTEc’s Spring meeting. The overarching theme from the National Governors Association (NGA), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE): while CTE hasn’t necessarily been a key area of focus in the past, it certainly is going to be moving forward.
Kristen Amundson, Executive Director of NASBE, noted that given the lack of movement at the federal level on any education policies, including Perkins, the real leverage point is the states. She mentioned some emerging work of NASBE to convene a career council and a tech council, which will pull together state board of education members, CTE educators and leaders, and representatives from business/industry to identify how to best structure state-level CTE policies. She laid out some common challenges with CTE policy – how to measure career readiness, how to break down the “academic” and “CTE” worlds – and that NASBE would also focus on identifying innovative programs and practices to share with their network.
Next, Steven Bowen, Strategic Initiative Director for Innovation at CCSSO, announced a new Career Readiness Task Force being launched this month. This task force – largely instigated by CCSSO’s current chair, Terry Holliday the State Superintendent of Kentucky – will meet over six months to develop a set of recommendations for state CTE policy and touch on Perkins as well. Early areas of focus include standards, secondary-postsecondary alignment, assessing career readiness and addressing barriers to access. Kim Green, NASDCTEc’s executive director, will serve on this task force, along with NASDCTEc’s President John Fischer and Vice President Scott Stump.
Finally, Stephen Parker the NGA’s Legislative Director shared the governors’ perspective on CTE. First he noted that CTE and workforce development were among the most common education priorities identified in the 2014 State of the State addresses (see here and here for NASDCTEc’s take on these addresses). While many governors are exploring state-level policies and levers to support CTE, they have also encouraged the NGA to develop principles for Perkins reauthorization. Last week, coinciding with the Spring meeting, the NGA held conference calls with many State CTE Directors participating to open dialogue. Parker noted that some of the emerging priorities include more state-level flexibility in supporting innovation, a clearer and stronger gubernatorial role, the removal of red tape and the need to address maintenance of effort.
Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director