Magazine article Techniques

Encourage Your Member of Congress to Be a Hands-On CTE Champion

Magazine article Techniques

Encourage Your Member of Congress to Be a Hands-On CTE Champion

Article excerpt

THERE IS A LOT OF DISCUSSION IN WASHINGTON these days about what it will take to get all students prepared for the jobs of the 21st century. A large part of the conversation centers on the need to provide instruction that better meets the individualized learning needs of students. Hands-on learning, performance-based instruction, and providing more course relevancy have all been part of the conversation, but the emphasis on these issues has been secondary for the most part.

Congress and the president understand the nation is facing high dropout and remediation rates and that many students are disengaged from the learning process, yet their primary focus continues to be on academic content. As career and technical education (CTE) advocates, our role should be about helping policymakers to understand that career readiness entails more than academic preparation alone.

CTE programs are well positioned to not only help many students better comprehend and apply academics, but to also gain the employability and technical skills that are essential for true career readiness. The educational opportunities provided through apprenticeships, job placements, internships and career centers are a big reason that many students connect to CTE. Our hands-on approach and work-based learning opportunities help students understand why they are in school and what they need to do to be relevant in the workplace. Despite this, too many legislators do not see CTE as an answer.

Take as an example a "Reform in K-12 STEM Education" hearing held earlier this year by the House Committee on Science and Technology. Several witnesses talked about the pressing need to show students the application of STEM disciplines to real-world problems in order to stimulate their interests in the subjects and motivate them to pursue related careers. Another witness cited the lack of technically trained young people. Yet, there was no discussion about CTE or recognition that CTE can help to directly address these issues.

My intention is not to indict the House Science and Technology Committee. There are plenty of other examples where the CTE disconnect exists. The point is that we as a CTE community have to do a better job of making policymakers understand the CTE connection. ACTE is working on this issue at the national level, but we need your help as well. …

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