Justesen Discusses the Future of CTE: Troy Justesen, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Sat Down with ACTE's Catherine Imperatore to Discuss Career and Technical Education

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ACTE: What do you think should be the biggest priority for career and technical education leaders over the next five years?

Justesen: That's a very good question; it's a very interesting question. I think that there are a number of priorities that we could probably all agree on. However, we've all learned that to choose one or two priorities is an important goal to make sure that we can all agree on those and move forward together. And we must make sure that those priorities are achieved goals over the next five years. So my thinking is that one of the greatest challenges for career and technical education as a professional field of education is for us to make sure that we increase the rigor and the relevance of CTE courses, of all CTE courses, in the 21st century. I think that it's very important for us to acknowledge that we must meet these global challenges; we must meet the changing world head-on in CTE and make sure that all of our courses are constantly evaluated and re-evaluated for their relevance in society today, and to make sure that they are rigorous courses, that they challenge students at all levels.

ACTE: What are your biggest concerns in regard to the implementation of the reauthorized Perkins Act?

Justesen: My greatest concern I would say is that we make sure that Perkins is well implemented in every area of the country--both very rural areas and very highly urban areas. Students, regardless of where they are, should have the same chance and opportunity with the same types of exposure to new and technical areas in CTE fields, and we should make sure that we make these investments uniformly and equally across the country. That's a challenge here at the federal level. But it's also a partnership with our states and with the states at the local level to make sure that we have the resources well distributed, that the talent of educators is not based on whether educators or resources are only available in large areas, that we use modern technology, and that we make these opportunities available even in the smallest communities in the country.

ACTE: How will the Administration's No Child Left Behind recommendations ensure that CTE is included, and what steps can CTE and the Department take?

Justesen: Well, No Child Left Behind is the President and the Secretary's number one domestic policy achievement, and their number one interest in the country is to make sure that all children have the opportunity to learn and have the resources regardless of where they live, or their economic background. I think it's fair to say that No Child Left Behind does not ensure that CTE is included, but rather we should look at CTE and make sure that CTE programs build on the vision of No Child Left Behind. This means that CTE courses should have infused in them, all CTE courses should have infused in them, an opportunity for students to practice their literacy skills, their mathematical skills, their ability to interact and learn group dynamics, and the opportunities to use their core academic training that they receive as high school students and bring those to the CTE programs and courses that they take. I think only by fusing Perkins and No Child Left Behind together will we see an increased success of students who are CTE concentrators and students who choose CTE fields for their careers.

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ACTE: How can education and workforce development programs work more closely together to prepare students for success in the 21st century economy?

Justesen: Well, I think what this question means is that yes we've done some work together, but we need to do more work together, and that's true. I believe we do. With my very good friend Emily DeRocco, who is the assistant secretary of the Employment Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor, and others in the Administration, we have a strong devotion, a strong commitment to making CTE and workforce development programs as strong as they possibly can be. …