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Daily Dish: Acting Education Secretary John King Pushes for Career Technical Education

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March 09, 2016 03:29 pm

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Acting Education Secretary John King made a push today for career technical education, calling on Congress to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and announcing the launch of a career and technical education competition for high schools.

King made these announcements at an appearance in Baltimore today, at the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center. As Education Week reports, the Perkins Act puts more than $1 billion a year into career and technical education in middle and high school, as well as college. The law was last renewed in 2006, and lawmakers began the process of renewing and reworking the law several years ago to no avail. King wants the law to have a better focus on coordination between high schools and post-secondary programs on the necessary skill sets for students, writes Ed Week. “It’s time for Congress to reauthorize the Perkins Act so that every student, in every community has access to rigorous, relevant, and results-driven CTE programs,” said planned remarks for King.

King also announced a Career Technical Education (CTE) Makeover Challenge, a new competition sponsored by U.S. Department of Education, offering funds to award recipients to “to transform classrooms or available space in high schools into places where students have access to the tools to design, build and innovate,” according to an ED press release.

At the event, King said: “We’ve come a long way from what we used to refer to as vocational education. Today, every job that leads to a secure future requires critical thinking, problem solving and creativity, as well as some postsecondary education or training. The best career and technical education programs help students prepare for this future once they graduate from high school. Career and technical education is not just about preparing some students for successful lives and careers, it’s about giving all students the tools to shape our future.”

A recent ED blog post expands upon CTE and the importance for high-quality CTE programs that are academically rigorous and aligned with workforce demands. “Most professions and careers in the 2016 and future economies require strong academic foundation skills, considerable technical knowledge and skills, and well-developed employability skills and attributes,” the post says. CTE programs can deliver these skills, with research showing that secondary CTE students are more likely to graduate from high school than non-CTE students, the post says.

Also, the demand for CTE opportunities is clear, with large numbers of applicants applying for very few spots. There are waiting lists at schools that are serving communities with large, at-risk populations. “The take away is that in communities where the need is greatest, access to good programs is a real problem. No access, no skills, no good jobs.” While the demand is growing, there isn’t comparable supply, creating many missed opportunities to put students on paths towards college and careers, the post says. Reauthorization of the Perkins Act is cited as a step towards a solution on a federal level. The post also explores several examples on state levels, and in both the public and private sectors. Read more: http://blog.ed.gov/2016/03/lets-commit-to-giving-cte-students-the-opportunity-they-demand-and-deserve/.

The Washington Post features one such example in Arlington, where a new school aims to put career and technical education at the center of the curriculum, and integrate academic lessons into projects. Students would take all their classes at a career center, where students already go to receive hands-on training and develop workforce skills. Now, they will be able to also take their academic courses, including English and history, at the center, with lessons embedded into projects. Students experience project-based learning, with lessons that reach across all disciplines. As freshman, students will experiment with different kind of CTE opportunities, and by their junior year students would be taking courses that earn them college level credit. Learn more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/new-tech-program-would-push-hands-on-learning-to-give-teens-real-world-skills/2016/03/07/759b509c-e22e-11e5-846c-10191d1fc4ec_story.html

This week, King also participated in a panel discussion on the issue of teacher diversity, which Slate calls the “one cause in education that everyone supports.” He was joined by Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers, Elisa Villanueva Beard, CEO, Teach for America, and Harry F. Preston V, teacher, Baltimore Teacher Leaders Program and Teacher for America alumnus. You can view the conversation, which was moderated by Dr. Leslie Fenwick, Dean, Howard University School of Education, here: http://www.shankerinstitute.org/event/conversation-teacher-diversity.

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