Educating Policymakers: 2006 NPS Arms Educators: At This Year's ACTE National Policy Seminar, Nearly 500 Gathered in Washington, D.C., to Learn about the Latest Legislative Issues, to Hear from Congressional Staff, and to Take the CTE Message Up to Capitol Hill

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Nearly 500 career and technical educators gathered in Washington, D.C., in March to learn about what's happening with Perkins, receive tips on working with the media, and voice their opinions with their federal representatives.

The 2006 National Policy Seminar (NPS) began with a presentation by the ACTE public policy staff on the current status of issues impacting career and technical education. This presentation covered issues such as the federal budget and appropriations, and the reauthorizations of Perkins, the Workforce Investment Act, No Child Left Behind, and the Higher Education Act. Attendees left this session armed with the statistics and information they needed to discuss these issues with policymakers.

Opening General Session Cooks

Once armed with the vital information they would need over the next two days, attendees were delighted to hear from political analyst Charlie Cook. Cook regaled the audience with his analysis of how election-year politics could affect this Congressional session, issues and candidates that are likely to influence the upcoming elections, key 2006 Congressional races that alter the current Congressional landscape, and prospects for the 2008 presidential race.

Honor and Awards

The second day of NPS began with a session that gave the congressional perspectives on education and workforce development issues. In this session, attendees heard from Mark Laisch from the Senate Appropriations Committee, Scott Fleming from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Denise Forte from the House Education and the Workforce Committee about what they see as happening with the key CTE issues. This was a great way for attendees to hear how the congressional offices are approaching these vital issues as it helps them frame their discussions before going to Capitol Hill.

Following this session, attendees heard from Beto Gonzalez, the U.S. Department of Education's acting chief of career-tech, and Mason Bishop, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration.

Career and technical education must keep up with the changing times to provide students with the skills necessary to succeed in high school and beyond, said Gonzalez. While many career-tech programs are a bastion of innovation and are working to improve student outcomes, it is the Administration's stance that some CTE programs have been under neglect, he added. Some of the problems Gonzalez has noticed during his own tours across the country range from administrative neglect to infrastructure failings to programs that are irrelevant to their communities. The CTE community must work to identify and disseminate the best practices so that increased innovative programming can take root, he said.

The complex world in which we now live requires a rigorous, highly challenging high school curriculum--even for many CTE jobs that once were considered low-skilled, Gonzalez said. Therefore, education must be tailored to address the shortages that are now present and that threaten to impede the nation's competitiveness in today's global economy, he added.

Following remarks by Gonzalez, Mason Bishop, made remarks about the Department of Labor's efforts to strengthen America's workforce. Bishop commented that the Department was working to build a more flexible workforce development system, and to reduce programmatic duplication.

Following Bishop's remarks the ACTE Board of Directors presented Hans Meeder with the ACTE Board of Directors Award for his work on behalf of CTE during his tenure as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the federal Office of Vocational and Adult Education. …


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