OVAE Connection - Issue 138

OVAE Connection

                                                                             February 21, 2013 - Issue 138

Message From Under Secretary Martha Kanter to Celebrate CTE Month

Shortly after taking office in 2009, President Obama proposed an ambitious goal for our nation to have “the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world by 2020” so that the U.S. could retain its preeminence as a global leader. CTE month is an opportunity to take pride in the progress that has been made to reach the 2020 goal over the last several years, a goal that our Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calls our “North Star.” The CTE blueprint published in 2011 prioritizes the urgent need for students to make a successful transition from high school to college and career to help reach the president’s goal. We want our nation’s students to earn a certificate, degree, or industry-recognized credential beyond the high school diploma because in doing so they will be ready for 21st century careers. 

This administration has worked with Congress to enable millions more students to succeed in college, to enter or advance in their careers, and to make a difference in their communities. We’ve substantially increased funding for Pell grants and moved forward with a series of reforms to the student loan system—including income-based repayment and public service loan forgiveness—to help students enroll in and complete their studies, complete one year or more of education beyond high school, and lead productive lives as citizens. 

Career and Technical Education is an important component of transitioning from school to college and a career, ensuring that more Americans have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills, and credentials to get good jobs and to provide the skilled workforce that our nation needs to secure its economic and social prosperity.

The administration’s proposal for a reauthorized Perkins Act would usher in a new era of rigorous, relevant, and results-driven CTE shaped by four core principles—alignment, collaboration, accountability, and innovation. Such principles support the expansion of programs that dramatically increase the preparation of students in high school and from high school through community college to further their educations successfully and enter the workforce. 

We want to acknowledge and thank our many partners who are working tirelessly to ensure that the educational transitions from school to college and career are seamless and that student success is first and foremost! We want to especially thank the students themselves, as well as career and technical student organizations, parents, teachers, scholars, administrators, school superintendents, and policymakers at the local, regional, and state levels, community and technical colleges, universities, and advocacy and philanthropic organizations. This wide network of stakeholders demonstrates the importance of our shared vision. We look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead to reach the president’s 2020 goal of having the best-educated workforce for the 21st century.

Sherene R Donaldson

Photograph by Bill Moser, U.S. Department of Education

Sherene R. Donaldson recently joined OVAE’s Division of Academic and Technical Education (DATE) team as an education program specialist. She will provide authoritative leadership and guidance for DATE’s national activity projects, including input into the development of objectives, policies, and long-range priorities.  

Prior to joining OVAE, Donaldson served as a curriculum and adult education director in Indiana. She led career and technical, and adult education programming for students in over nine school districts. She administered the development and/or implementation of CTE programs of study, teacher licensing, state and federal grants, and professional development.  

Donaldson earned a Bachelor of Science in secondary education-biology from Indiana University, a master’s in education in curriculum design and an educational specialist degree from Indiana Wesleyan University, where she also completed a leadership program for principals. Donaldson is licensed as a K–12 building administrator in Indiana and Tennessee and as a school superintendent in Indiana. She was selected to participate in the Leadership Excellence Academy by the Indiana director of adult education and became a certified manager in program improvement.  

Donaldson served as the education representative for the Central Indiana Regional Workforce Board. She also served as the chair of the Emergency Medical Technician career pathway team and as a grant reader for the Indiana Department of Education. She served as the director of education at a post-secondary education institution in Indiana. Donaldson began her career as a science teacher and taught middle school science, biology, integrated chemistry-physics, and GED science classes.

State of the Union Includes Significant CTE Focus

Education was featured when President Obama delivered his State of the Union address on Feb. 12, and set forth his agenda for a strong middle class and a strong America. “It is our generation’s task … to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth—a rising, thriving middle class … To grow our middle class, our citizens must have access to the education and training that today’s jobs require. But we also have to make sure that America remains a place where everyone who’s willing to work hard has the chance to get ahead.” 

The key education priorities in the president’s agenda include: (1) making high-quality pre-school education available to every child, (2) building a skilled workforce by teaching real-world, job-relevant, and academic skills, and (3) keeping college affordable by holding colleges accountable for costs and empowering families to make smart choices about college education.

Early-childhood education is the underpinning of the president’s education agenda because it is essential to giving every child a start on the road to a successful, fulfilling life. “Tonight,” he said, “I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America.” This initiative builds on the $8 billion currently spent by the federal government on Head Start, the foundational early childhood program to help the nation’s most disadvantaged children prepare for school. It also builds on the substantial sums the federal government provides to the states for child-care grants. 

The emphasis on building a skilled workforce by teaching real-world, job-relevant, and academic skills is abetted by a Race to the Top competition for high schools that align their curricula and instruction with the knowledge and skills needed in the 21st-century economy. He combined this emphasis with a call last spring for the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act to support stronger, results-driven CTE programs built on the four core proposals contained in the administration’s blueprint for reauthorization: alignment, collaboration, accountability, and innovation. “Let’s also make sure that a high school diploma puts our kids on a path to a good job,” the president said. He offered Germany as an example of the innovations he seeks, which, he said, “…focuses on graduating their high school students with the equivalent of a technical degree from one of our community colleges, so that they’re ready for a job.” 

To round out his education agenda, President Obama addressed college affordability, saying, “… even with better high schools, most young people will need some higher education. … [T]he more education you have, the more likely you are to have a job and work your way into the middle class.” College costs, which the president described as “skyrocketing,” are an impediment to young people attaining this higher education. The president urged Congress to make changes to the Higher Education Act to support his affordability agenda.