Day 3: Bus Tour Reaches Tucson, Ariz.

This is the third in a series of daily updates from Dr. Sharon Lee Miller who is on the Back-to-School Bus Tour currently in progress in the Southwest U.S.

Photo including from left to right: Dr. Jonathon Reinhardt, Dr. Beatrice Dupay, Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier , Dr. Linda Waugh, and Dr. Kathy Short, at the Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language, and Literacy (CERCLL).

Photo of Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier at the Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language, and Literacy (CERCLL) – From the left – Dr. Jonathon Reinhardt, Dr. Beatrice Dupay, Brenda, Dr. Linda Waugh, and Dr. Kathy Short

Our day began with a roundtable on the Tucson campus of the University of Arizona with key staff and graduate students of the Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language, and Literacy (CERCLL – pronounced “circle”). Partially funded through the National Resource Center grant program, a federal grant offered through ED’s Office of International and Foreign Language Education, this center is one of 15 across the U.S. that is dedicated to developing resources and providing professional development for K-8 foreign language instruction. Roundtable participants are now sharing information about their “Worlds of Words” language and culture book kits that encourage the development of intercultural understandings for K-8 teachers and children.  The kits are available at www.wowlit.org!  To learn more about the National Resource Center grant program and other federally funded programs, which focus on language learning please visit ED’s website here.

10:50AM Local Tucson Time –

Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier with faculty and Students of the Ocotillo Early Family Literacy Center in Tuscon, AZ.

Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier with faculty and Students of the Ocotillo Early Family Literacy Center in Tuscon, AZ.

We just arrived at a family literacy program at the Ocotillo Early Learning Center in Tuscon, AZ. The adult students are introducing themselves to Brenda and sharing the reasons why they have enrolled in the program. Their reasons range from being better parents to helping their children read to getting a job and providing for their families.

Photo of Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and Pima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert seated at a table with students. teachers, and administrators

Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and newly-appointed chancellor of Pima Community College Lee Lambert lead a roundtable of students, teachers, and administrators at El Pueblo Liberty Learning Center in Tuscon, AZ.

12:00PM Local Tucson Time –

We just bade farewell to a wonderful group of students, teachers, and administrators at the Ocotillo Early Family Literacy Center! We have just headed over to El Pueblo Liberty Learning Center, which is housed within Pima Community College, and have begun a roundtable discussion with students and staff. The students–who are all parents–are sharing their stories about why they enrolled in the program and their expectations for the future. One student just described her feelings of isolation and despair as a mother who was unable to speak English and fulfill her responsibilities as a parent and community member. Another student just recounted how she enrolled in the GED program when her son dropped out of high school and indicated that he would go back and finish when she did. Both students have indicated that they are well on their way toward achieving their educational goals and are enrolled in Pima Community College!

Wednesday Evening Tempe, AZ –

We wrapped up our activities for Wednesday at Secretary Duncan’s Town Hall Meeting on Higher Education. Flanked by the presidents of Arizona State University and the University of Maryland, the Secretary focused on college affordability, particularly for Hispanic students who are among the youngest and fastest growing segments of the population. In his remarks, Secretary Duncan reiterated his concerns about the growing costs of college and the debt that many students carry once they graduate, and shared the President’s proposals to address these issues.

Bus Tour Update Day 2: El Paso

Just received a note from Sharon Miller on the Bus Tour

Yesterday, we started the morning at Transmountain Early College High School in El Paso, TX where Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier joined Secretary Duncan for an incredible town hall meeting. Transmountain is one of eight high schools that have partnered with El Paso Community College to allow students to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an Associate Degree in four years. Transmountain focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and nearly all of their students earn an associate’s degree in four years. Among the highlights of the visit was meeting Jarisma Rodriquez. One of the first Transmountain graduates in 2011, Jarisma earned her associate’s degree in 3 years, during which time she designed a project that was sent into space on the NASA Space Shuttle Endeavor. Following high school, Jarisma enrolled in Texas Tech University and graduated by the age of 18. She aspires to continue her studies and pursue a medical degree. Jarisma is one of many students at Transmountain who are showing how far students can succeed when standards and expectations are set high!

Onward to Arizona!

OVAE Salutes the Spirit of the March on Washington

As you know, this is the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, a march which demanded Jobs and Freedom. We are more likely to remember it today for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s moving and profound “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. However, the retrospective coverage and personal stories being shared in advance of the commemorative activities reminds us that economic and social justice issues were the motivations that drew hundreds of thousands of people to Washington, D.C. that summer.

I often echo Secretary Duncan in saying that “education is the civil rights issue of our time.” Adult education and literacy have deep roots in social justice and civil rights movements. We are proud of those roots and the work that educators do to change lives and communities in this country and around the world.

Brenda Dann-Messier is the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education

DOL Resource: Skimming for Skills

If you want to find information on skills and educational attainment, the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration’s guide to the relevant sources will allow you to shed light on labor or skill shortages, skill mismatches, and skill deficiencies.  Skimming for Skills provides links to surveys, reports and customized data tools, and includes more than three dozen sources.

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Join OVAE in San Antonio at the National Career Pathways Network

OVAE will be contributing insights and updates at the 2013 National Career Pathway Network conference in San Antonio, Texas on October 14 and 15, 2013. The event is hosted by the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD) and will feature speakers and sessions to help educators, workforce development professionals, business and industry experts, and economic development partners build and enhance career pathways in their communities.

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Maine CTE: It’s Not Your Parents’ Vocational Education

Cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Education blog.

Students at the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology in Biddeford, Maine are excited about learning — and they’re eager to tell you why.  They can also show you some pretty impressive proof that they’ve mastered the concepts they’ve studied.

Take, for example, the house they built as the capstone of one project.

Programs at Biddeford Regional Center of Technology

A selection of CTE programs offered at Biddeford Regional Center of Technology

“It’s not just about wiring a house, it’s about the theory and science [of] what is actually happening in the wires. In my other classes, you don’t really get hands-on, you just do what’s in the book,” a senior at the Center recently explained to visitors from the U.S. Department of Education.

Part of my role as a Teaching Ambassador Fellow (TAF) is to help teachers and other educators around the country learn about the Department’s efforts to support world-class teaching and learning. But, it’s just as important for us to bring teacher, principal, and student perspectives back to policymakers in Washington. For both those reasons, I traveled to Biddeford.

Right now, there’s an important shift taking place in schools and districts across the United States: a shift away from vocational education, and toward career and technical education, or CTE. The narrow vocational training of our parents’ and grandparents’ day was often separated from the college preparatory curriculum, and geared to the needs of the industrial age. Today’s CTE programs are designed to meet the needs and opportunities of the global economy and the digital age, and prepare students for equal success in college and careers.

When change is this ambitious, it can take a while for old perceptions to catch up to new realities. CTE teachers and students in CTE courses often find themselves having to correct the belief that CTE courses are less rigorous than traditional “college prep” classes. The experiences of the students and teachers at Biddeford certainly debunked this myth.

Biddeford offers professionally certified programs in career fields like legal studies, architecture, early childhood education, and health sciences. The students told us they feel good about learning a combination of academic, technical and employability skills that will equip them for success in college and in the 21st century’s technology-rich, team-based, results-oriented professions.

The teachers we spoke with called the Center “a direct link to college.” They explained that participating in the Biddeford program helps students set their sights on postsecondary education, giving them confidence in their abilities and real-world opportunities to apply ideas. A health sciences teacher, for example, spoke proudly of Biddeford graduates who are now in medical school or have launched careers as pharmacists, physical therapists, and registered nurses.

The CTE students at this regional center attend their home school for half of the day. Then, they travel by bus to Biddeford, to spend the second half-day in courses directly related to a career pathway, including work-based learning and other activities that require them to think critically, put theory into practice, and serve as constructive team members.  They graduate with a high school diploma and certification in their field.  This allows them to go directly to work in high-demand jobs, or continue their education at a community or four-year college.

A senior electrical engineering student explained the extra value he’ll be able to provide to his employer, beyond a strong grasp of the scientific skills his field requires. That added value is leadership: something he’s been able to practice in his classes, and as a member of a student council that offers peer-to-peer outreach.

Secretary Duncan has said that “a career-ready student must have the knowledge and skills that employers need from day one. That means having critical thinking and problem-solving skills, an ability to synthesize information, solid communication skills, and the ability to work well on a team.”

As these learners discussed the house they’d built, it was clear that they’re engaged in something worlds away from the “voc ed” of a generation ago. They didn’t just pound nails into 2 x 4 planks. Instead, they applied a wide range of academic and technical skills – from architectural design principles, to safety rules, to the physics of wiring. They also exercised the key critical thinking and communication skills they’ll need to get ahead, no matter what professions they ultimately pursue.

As one student put it, “If communication isn’t happening, that’s a safety issue – and the project doesn’t get completed.”  You can’t get much more real-world than that.

The students at Biddeford showed us what today’s career and technical education can look like: CTE that prepares 21st century learners for the demands of 21st century college and careers.

Kareen Borders is a 2012-2013 Full-Time Teaching Ambassador Fellows at the U.S. Department of Education.

Read the Department of Education’s Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education

Are you signed up to receive OVAE’s weekly newsletter?

Did you know that every week, OVAE publishes an electronic newsletter called OVAE Connection? OVAE Connection provides information to state officials involved in adult education, career and technical education (CTE), and community colleges, as well as to practitioners, researchers, education groups and others interested in community colleges, CTE, and adult education. Here are the headlines from this week’s edition: “Results From TIMSS: U.S. Performance in Mathematics is Above Average” and “Model Program for Long-Term Career Advancement of Low Income Adults.”  You can sign up for OVAE Connection and other U.S. Department of Education newsletters by clicking here. You can also access archived versions of OVAE Connection here.

 

 

July 10 Release Event of OECD Report on Postsecondary CTE in the U.S.

REMINDER: The New America Foundation will be streaming the release event of the OECD’s U.S. country report on postsecondary CTE tomorrow, Wednesday, July 10 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET. Click here to access the live stream. If you’re not available to watch the event live, it will be recorded and archived on the New America Foundation’s website afterward.”

The Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) of the U.S. Department of Education is pleased to announce the upcoming release of a special OVAE- and NCES-funded report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on the state of postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) in the United States. 

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Tomorrow–Webinar on Building a System of High-Quality Career Pathways

The National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education (NCICTE) will be presenting the first webinar in a four-part series on Building a System of High-Quality Career Pathways: High School Transformation and District Supports, beginning tomorrow, July 10. Attendees will learn about college and career readiness and its significance for high school students. To register for the first webinar, which will take place on July 10, 2013 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. EDT, click here.