Magazine article Techniques

Moving from CTE Recognition to CTE Understanding

Magazine article Techniques

Moving from CTE Recognition to CTE Understanding

Article excerpt

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EARLIER THIS YEAR, PRESIDENT OBAMA INCLUDED A REFERENCE to education and training programs in his State of the Union speech. He specifically talked about the importance of providing Americans with the skills employers require and the need to match them to good jobs. He also called for more on-the-job training and apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life.

This is not the first time the president has referenced career and technical education (CTE)-related topics when speaking about education and training or the nation's future. In 2009, he asked every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. Following his State of the Union address this year, the President visited McGavock High School in Nashville, Tennessee. McGavock is known for its career academies approach, and the president used the school as a backdrop to further discuss education reform and skills training.

Other politicians are taking notice of CTE, as well. At the encouragement of the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) launched the Senate CTE Caucus in January. The Caucus is expected to raise awareness in the Senate concerning CTE, similar to what the House CTE Caucus has done. Senators Kaine and Portman issued a letter to their colleagues urging Caucus membership. The letter stated: "One key to America's continued success lies in improving our nation's educational system." The report went on to say that, "If we are to win the race for talent, we need a long-term plan that produces the best workforce in the world."

The positive attention surrounding CTE and its connection to larger American challenges--such as how we ensure a relevant workforce pipeline and improved education system--is something to be celebrated. ACTE and the CTE community have worked hard to build advocates and awareness related to this issue! However, more work remains.

Most legislators have only a cursory understanding about how CTE relates to the future and health of the nation's economy. They do not always possess a deeper understanding about the importance of an interconnected secondary/postsecondary/workforce system; the value of career development, exploration and work-based learning; the ways that our programs connect to rigorous academics; or the importance of having a breadth of pathways and various credentials for students to choose from. …

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