OCTAE Connection - Issue 185, February 27, 2014

OCTAE Newsletter

                             February 27, 2014


Division of Academic and Technical Education Director Wraps Up CTE Month Missives

It is my pleasure to wrap up the series of Department of Education articles celebrating CTE Month. The series began with Secretary Arne Duncan highlighting the importance of CTE in preparing all students to succeed in a global, knowledge-based, and hyper-connected digital world. Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier then spoke about the administration’s vision for high-quality CTE and provided examples of the many excellent CTE programs she has visited in her travels across the nation. Finally, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges Mark Mitsui addressed the critical role of postsecondary education in forging strong connections with secondary education and employers to create seamless career pathways for students.

Reflecting on these articles, my foremost thought is how nice it is to finally have the wind at our backs. Just five years ago, the administration requested zero funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins), citing its lack of programmatic clarity and ineffectiveness in producing student outcomes. Since that time, there has been incredible action across the nation to transform and scale up high-quality CTE programs. Among the major efforts, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium has worked with secondary and postsecondary education, and business and industry leaders to establish a common technical core of standards for career pathways in 16 career cluster areas. The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) has mobilized business and industry leaders to play a greater role in CTE program design and implementation. The states have passed legislation and adopted policies that incentivize and promote CTE programs. And, perhaps most importantly, local secondary and postsecondary education, and business and industry partners have joined forces to offer clear and accelerated pathways for students from high school to college and careers.

These and countless other efforts have positioned CTE programs for what is now an optimal alignment of positive developments—a post-recession economy, a resurgence of our nation's manufacturing base, and the realization that youths and adults need more options for college and career preparation. But, even with the wind at our backs, our work is still far from over. Much work lies ahead if we are to make sure that every student—from our most remote areas to our urban centers—has access to high-quality CTE programs.

For our part, during the upcoming year, the Department plans to provide further technical assistance on the development and implementation of state and local career pathway systems. We will explore options for greater use of technology in instruction and career counseling, and gather and report data on the outcomes of students who participate in CTE. We also plan to continue our strong partnership with the nation’s Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), whose work impacts not only its more than 2 million members but also the legions of advisors, sponsors, alumni, and community members served by these impressive organizations. To that end—and hot off the press—is a link to an internal briefing that representatives of four CTSOs provided for the Department of Education this past February 19. See http://edstream.ed.gov/webcast/Catalog/catalogs/default.aspx.

With the wind at your back this year, what will you do to further mobilize high-quality CTE?

Sharon Miller

$1.3 Billion in Federal Assistance for Communities to Improve Manufacturing

Due largely to ongoing increases in the productivity of American workers, opportunities resulting from the expanded development of U.S. energy resources, and rising costs in other economies, the U.S. has begun again to invest in business. This is especially apparent in the manufacturing sector. There, however, if communities are to establish productive industrial systems, concerns must also be addressed at the local level. To enable this, the main goal must be coordination of investments in infrastructure, workforce skills, industry and university research centers, and other public goods that attract long-term investments.

The Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) is a federal initiative designed to cultivate an environment for businesses to create well-paying manufacturing jobs in regions across the country, thereby accelerating the resurgence of U.S. manufacturing. IMCP rewards communities that employ best practices to attract and expand manufacturing through planning their economic development in concert with local government, business, universities, and other stakeholders. Such efforts also build on local assets and align investments to local industry needs, such as capital, workforce education, infrastructure, and research.

To date, IMCP has awarded 44 communities a total of $7 million to support the creation of economic development strategies. In the newly opened second phase, communities will be able to compete for some $1.3 billion in federal dollars, and assistance from 10 cabinet departments and agencies. In addition, communities will have access to a playbook of federal economic development resources and a new data tool for assessing their manufacturing strengths. An announcement of the competition was released in December as were a Federal Register Notice, resource playbook, and data tools. Please note that, while the announcement indicates a March 14, 2014 deadline for applications, that deadline is no longer accurate and is in the process of being revised.

Fifty Years of Federal Adult Education: Examining Its Legislative History


Federal Adult Education: A Legislative History 1964-2013 is a careful examination of the origins of federal involvement in adult education. The report provides a chronological mapping of federal laws for adult education, offering a historical perspective along with insight on the years ahead. As the first compilation of the history of adult education legislation, the report spans from the mid-60s into the new century, providing a broad historical overview for general readers. It also serves as “a guide to primary source material related to federal legislation and on adult basic education.”

Readers can trace the ongoing role that adult education has played in helping the nation’s adults improve their lives—from expanding work opportunities to promoting assimilation into the culture of this country by providing English language instruction.

As chronicled in the report, the civil rights movement of the 1960s catapulted the Economic Opportunity Act (1964) into law, providing the impetus for the federal government to work with states and expand adult education opportunities. This key legislative turning point brought an increased awareness of the need for quality education—not just for children but also for adults—as well as of the changing needs of the workforce, the role of technology, and increasing global competition.

With the passage of this act in 1964, adult basic education legislation set the stage for the federal government’s initiative to address adult illiteracy in the United States. A few years later, in 1966, Congress passed legislation removing adult education from the Office of Economic Opportunity and vested authority for the program in the U.S. Office of Education. Today, the adult education program resides within the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, in the Division of Adult Education and Literacy.

In 1990, decades after the passage of the Economic Opportunity Act, the National Governor’s Association added a goal to specifically address adult literacy. Following this, “the National Literacy Act (1991) provided the first nationwide efforts to increase literacy levels, provide measurable student gains, and institute a National Reporting System to document successes.” Passage of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 subsequently consolidated, coordinated, and improved employment, training, literacy, and vocational programs, and “forged new alliances at the regional level to address the needs of their mutual clients.”

The 50th anniversary of adult education, according to the report, signals the need to once again help adult learners recognize that attainment of a high school diploma alone is not sufficient to remain socioeconomically competitive. Today, higher education or career training is the standard, which underscores the need to improve basic education and lifelong learning opportunities for adults.

In sum, “the continuing goal of adult education in the United States,” according to the report, “is to ensure that adult students and individuals with disabilities are college- and career-ready and have the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue successful career pathways.”

Upcoming Webinar on Supporting 21st Century Educators: How States Are Promoting Career and Technical Educator Effectiveness, March 7, 2-3:30 p.m. EST

The Center on Great Teachers and Leaders, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, the Central Comprehensive Center, the South Central Comprehensive Center, and the Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center are collaborating to host this webinar on state policies that can promote CTE teacher effectiveness. To register, go here.

TAACCCT Grant Application Cost Assistance Available


The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) will assist organizations serving the Appalachian Region in developing applications for the upcoming fourth round of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program implemented by the U.S. departments of Labor and Education. ARC will make up to $5,000 available to eligible awardees for costs incurred in developing their TAACCCT grant applications. For more information, please visit http://www.arc.gov/funding/TAACCCTGrantProgramFourthRound.asp or contact Wilson Paine at wpaine@arc.gov.