The Summit on Future Directions for CTE: Leadership

future directions

The Summit on Future Directions for CTE: Leadership
2nd in the Series

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

BrendaWelcoming OVAE leadership: The Fall Summit was kicked off by the new leadership of the Office of Vocational andGlennAdult Education at the U.S. Department of Education, Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and Deputy Assistant Secretary Glenn Cummings. Both were generous in their time, taking the opportunity to circulate the room and meet Summit attendees. Brenda and Glenn demonstrate genuine commitment to advocate for public policy that helps more students be successful.

Be bold, think broadly and show me the data! Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier, on the job for just one week, thanked the CTE community for its work and encouraged us to “to think broadly and boldly” as we think about the future. She underscored the role of CTE leaders to highlight the programs and data that answer the demands the White House has for student achievement and quality services. We need to prove that our programs are effective.

Looking back to guide the future: Dr. Mike Rush, former State CTE Director in Idaho and author of the “purple paper” challenged the CTE community to think about the importance of unity, working under a common vision, the criticality of education in ensuring our nation’s competitiveness, the necessity of preparation for and completion of postsecondary education, and importance of leadership.

MikeHe shared that “(t)his country has been engaged in an ongoing discussion about education and now, more than at any other time, our leaders are absolutely convinced that education is the make or break element in our nation’s arsenal of tools. But at the same time there appears to be less of a consensus about what constitutes a proper level and extent of education.”

This is a fundamental point of debate – do all students need to go to some form of postsecondary education? Mike contends the answer to this question is yes andthat CTE has an important role in achieving this goal by bothpreparing students with the skills to get to postsecondary education and the talents and skills to earn the income needed to pay for their postsecondary education. Such notions have been long argued. In fact, the debate of CTE’s focus dates back to the beginning of the 20th century by well-known intellectual leaders John Dewey and David Sneeden.  (Dewey, J. (1911). Culture and culture values. In P. Monroe (Ed.), A cyclopaedia of education, volume l (pp. 238–239). New York: Macmillan.  Dewey, J. (1911). Culture and culture values. In P. Monroe (Ed.), A cyclopaedia of education, volume l (pp. 238–239). New York: Macmillan. Snedden, D. (1910). The problem of vocational education. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Snedden, D. (1931). American High Schools and Vocational Schools in 1960. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.)

Today, debates continue over what is CTE. Is it occupation specific training or broader talent development? While we may not resolve this century old debate, Mike shared that “(CTE must) maintain your core mission. The workplace provides the context that makes CTE unique and valuable to an educational enterprise.” And he underscored the absolute necessity for CTE leaders to step outside of their box, their silo and be prepared to lead all of education – not just CTE.

Leadership: Both Brenda and Mike spoke about the importance of leadership. Leadership is a term that has almost individualized meaning. Is leadership a talent, a style, a learned behavior, something afforded by position? For some leadership is simply implementing what is effective. For others, leadership it is about challenging the status quo. And for others is it about the act of creating andcrafting something new, like a vision. The Fall Summit hoped that by bringing together leader from around the country together, we would benefit from their diverse styles and interpretations of leadership.

So with the challenge was before Summit attendees – to think boldly, to dream big, to be leaders –the work began. Attendees were asked to answer what on its face is a simple question:

What are the core principles that should guide the future direction of CTE for the next 10 years?

How would you answer this question?


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