Magazine article Techniques

The Times They Are A-Changing

Magazine article Techniques

The Times They Are A-Changing

Article excerpt

The dawn of the 1960s found the American Vocational Association actively involved in both the national and the international arenas. A cultural agreement between Russia and the United States resulted in an exchange of visits between Russian and American vocational educators. At the request of the U.S. Department of State, the AVA sponsored a two-week tour of U.S. vocational schools in February 1960. In May of that same year, three American educators, including AVA past president H.H. London, visited vocational schools in Russia. They returned to report their concerns to the nation regarding the expanding vocational education plans of the Soviets in the economic phase of the Cold War.

In the domestic arena, AVA officers worked with the Senate Special Committee on Unemployment Problems on a report that recommended a considerable expansion of vocational education for both youth and adults. The final report recognized the AVA and included quotes from the AVA Bulletin.

A National Power

The largest peacetime vocational education appropriations funding up to that date was passed for fiscal year 1961, despite President Eisenhower's recommendation for a $2 million cut in funds. But there was soon to be a new administration in the White House, so the AVA wrote to both presidential candidates to obtain their views on vocational education.

The Democratic Party's candidate, John F. Kennedy, responded on August 17, 1960, with a letter stating that, "The continuation of federal funds for vocational education at the full amounts authorized by existing law is vital to the security and economic health of our nation." He reaffirmed his party's platform to, "further federal support for all phases of vocational education."

The Republican candidate, Richard Nixon, did not send his response until October 7, 1960, but he too expressed support for strengthening vocational education.

The American Vocational Association played a major role in the passage of the Manpower Development and Training Act of 1962, a three-year program that authorized additional funds for the training of unemployed and underemployed workers. As a result of an argument fought and won by the AVA, this training would be handled by existing vocational education authorities at the federal, state and local levels.

The association helped establish President Kennedy's Panel of Consultants on Vocational Education and worked cooperatively with the panel in 1962. Members of the panel included two past presidents of the AVA. That same year, the First National Seminar on Research in Vocational Education was held at Purdue University, and the AVA Research Committee was one of the sponsors.

The Perkins Act

When the Vocational Education Act of 1963 (The Perkins Act) was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, it became the most comprehensive vocational education measure that had ever become law in the history of our nation. It authorized a new permanent program of federal assistance for vocational education amounting to $60 million for fiscal year 1964. After rising to $177.5 million for fiscal 1966, funding would become $225 million in subsequent years. The act provided that vocational programs be available for persons in high schools, for those out of high school available for full-time study, for unemployed or underemployed persons, and for those who have academic or socioeconomic handicaps that prevent them from succeeding in regular vocational education programs. For the first time, federal funds would also become available to construct new vocational schools. Eight AVA representatives, including Executive Secretary Mobley, were present at the historic signing.

The Space Age

The exploration of space helped define the 1960s. It symbolized our ongoing competitiveness with the Soviet Union, and it symbolized the new technical skills needed by our workers. We were not only exploring the new frontier of space, but we were also exploring new frontiers in science and technology. …

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