OCTAE Connection - Issue 189 - March 27, 2014

OCTAE Newsletter

                                  March 27, 2014


         OCTAE Welcomes Carmen Drummond


OCTAE is pleased to welcome Carmen Drummond, who joined our staff in January as a confidential assistant to Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier. After moving to Washington, D.C. in 2010, Drummond worked at the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor to improve working conditions for women. Prior to that, she worked for Strategic Analysis, Inc., where she provided guidance on effective communication strategies for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection. She has held numerous internship positions at organizations in California and Washington, D.C. She also serves as an instructor with Computer Core, where she helps low-income adults acquire technological and life skills. A native Californian, Drummond holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University at Fullerton and a master’s degree from American University. She spends her weekends travelling and navigating D.C. (and other cities nearby) by foot. She also enjoys baking and dreams of turning her hobby into a company of her own. 

As a confidential assistant, Drummond: 

  • ensures that all necessary support is provided to the assistant secretary in her daily activities;
  • drafts and edits external correspondence and internal documents that requires the assistant secretary's signature;
  • gathers items for OCTAE’s weekly reports to the secretary and the White House;
  • schedules and facilitates visits with high-profile visitors for the assistant secretary; and
  • assists with planning, coordinating and executing special projects on behalf of the assistant secretary.  

President to Deliver Commencement Address at Worcester Tech High School


It was recently announced that President Obama would deliver the commencement address at Worcester Technical High School (WTHS) , in Worcester, Mass., on June 11. The school has established a remarkable record over the past eight years, for its outstanding CTE curriculum and results. 

A 2013 National Blue Ribbon school, WTHS uses CTE to provide students with a high-quality education that combine academics and technical training with opportunities to gain college credits, earn industry certifications, and participate in internships and other work experiences. Worcester Tech is a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School. Its racially, ethnically, and economically diverse student body of almost 1,400 students (45 percent are white, 35 percent Hispanic, 12 percent black, 6 percent Asian, and 65 percent come from low-income families) is enrolled in 24 technical programs within four small learning communities. 

WTHS was the only vocational technical school in the country to receive the honor of being named Met Life/National Association of Secondary Schools Principals’ (NASSP) Breakthrough School in 2011 for outstanding growth in low-income areas. In addition, Sheila Harrity, principal since 2006, was named by the MetLife Foundation as the 2014 National High School Principal of the Year in recognition of WTHS’s progress. During Harrity’s tenure, WTHS has experienced a significant transformation. In 2006, the business community, state and local officials, education and community leaders, and parents joined to design, fund, and support a new $90 million state-of-the-art vocational-technical facility. The students have experienced the transformation of the school with increases in their proficiency rates in English and mathematics, as well as in their four-year graduation rates. Of the WTHS graduating class of 2012, 77 percent are pursuing higher education, 18 percent went directly into employment, and 3 percent joined the military. 

WTHS has continued its efforts to improve the quality of education available to its students. In 2011, it applied to the Massachusetts Department of Education and was accepted as a Massachusetts Innovation School, now known as Worcester Technical STEM Early Career & College High School. This designation enables the school to operate with more autonomy and flexibility in staffing, professional development, policies and curriculum, and in implementing innovative strategies, while maintaining its public school funding. 

Brenda Dann-Messier, OCTAE’s assistant secretary, recently represented the Department at a CTE Town Hall meeting at WTHS. During her opening remarks, participation on a panel of experts, and question-and-answer session responses, Dann-Messier emphasized the themes that are essential to successful CTE programs. She highlighted the need for high-quality CTE programs that are aligned with and lead to industry-recognized credentials, thus addressing one of the major concerns facing our economy—the skills mismatch between what students know and can do and the skills that employers need. Key to establishing and maintaining such programs are the collaborations between both secondary and postsecondary education and between education and business and industry. Dann-Messier noted that these and other measures, illustrated in this administration’s Investing in America’s Future: A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education, will help ensure that every CTE program articulates a pathway to a well-paid, in-demand occupation. 

Nominations Due April 4 for Champions of Change in Corrections Work

Tonya Robinson, the special assistant to the president for justice and regulatory policy for the White House Domestic Policy Council, announced last week a call for nominations for Champions of Change for individuals who have expanded employment opportunities for persons returning from correctional confinement. Selected nominees will be invited to the White House for recognition and to showcase their work.  

The nomination categories that connect most strongly with work in the OCTAE community are for individuals who are: 

  1. “Creating effective education, training, mentoring and other transitional programs to help individuals with a criminal record improve employment outcomes;” and
  2. “Leveraging technology to increase access to employment-related reentry services or education and skills-building for individuals with a criminal record.” 

OVAE Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier commented, “Secretary Duncan and I have been proud to work with initiatives across ED and across the federal family to improve opportunities for individuals who are working to become contributing members of society after incarceration. This often entails employment, and education is critical in enabling employment success. We are pleased that the White House is preparing to recognize the work of leaders in reentry. I hope to have the opportunity to participate in this recognition event and to greet educators among those being recognized.” 

The brief nomination form is available here. Nominations close at noon on April 4, 2014. 

 $44M to Assist Youths in Juvenile Justice System

  Applications for Face Forward Grants Due May 2


The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced the availability of nearly $44 million in grants for the second round of funding for the Face Forward program. These grants are required to provide, but are not limited to, educational interventions, support services, and work-based learning opportunities for youths ages 14‒24, who are now or were previously involved in the juvenile justice system, as well as candidates who fall under their state’s guidelines for juvenile diversion programs. The Face Forward grants are explicitly created to “help youth evade the stigma of having a juvenile record through the use of diversion or record expungement strategies.” The closing date for receipt of applications under this announcement is May 2, 2014 by 4 p.m. E. T. For more information, including eligibility, deadlines, and application materials, please see the full solicitation announcement.

The Power of Workforce System Innovations to Create Jobs

                 Register for Live-Stream Plenary


U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez has extended an invitation to a live-stream plenary on workforce system innovations being implemented by DOL’s Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF) grantees that help create jobs. Perez will kick off this first event in the Eye on the Workforce Innovation Fund Stakeholder Engagement Series, Innovating for Change. He will be joined by Kate McAdams, senior advisor to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Employment and Training Administration (ETA) Acting Assistant Secretary Eric Seleznow. This stakeholder engagement series will provide a national forum for the public workforce system to discuss innovations, and it will afford ETA the opportunity to engage with its stakeholders and to learn about promising practices. 

Register to participate in Innovating @ the Speed of Business on March 27, 2014, at 2:15 p.m. E. D. T. WIF grantees in Ohio (Workforce Initiative Association) and Pennsylvania (Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board) will share their strategies for engaging businesses to help people get jobs. During the event, everyone is welcome to post questions on Twitter using the hash tag #workforceinnovation. The project team will monitor the questions and answer them from the Labor Department Twitter account (@USDOL) during and after the event.