April “School Days” Highlights Potential Increase in Student Loan Rate

In the just-released April 2012 edition of “School Days,” the monthly video journal of the U.S. Department of Education, President Obama calls for quick action by the Congress to avoid a dramatic increase in the interest rate for Federal college loans; Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announces the first-ever awards in the new U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program; and a the Blueprint for Career and Technical Education outlines the Administration’s plans for transforming the programs that prepare students of all ages for the workplace of today.  And there’s much, much more.  Watch “School Days.”

Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

Weighing In on CTE Blueprint

“This administration believes that career and technical education is central to rebuilding our economy and securing a brighter future for our nation,” said Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary for vocational and adult education, at last week’s release of the Obama Administration’s blueprint for transforming career and technical education (CTE). “Our federal investment in CTE must be dramatically reshaped to fulfill its potential to prepare all students, regardless of their background or circumstances, for further education and cutting-edge careers,” she said.

The education and business community, as well as members of Congress, have been weighing in on the blueprint. Here is a sample of what they’re saying:

Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education: “If the nation is to prepare all students for college and a career, career and technical education must be an essential part of the education reform process and a key component of the nation’s education system. The Obama administration’s blueprint is an important step in that direction.”

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA): “Career and technical education plays a critical role in ensuring that students have the 21st century skills necessary to find jobs with salaries that support them and their families.  I want to commend Secretary Duncan for bringing attention to the need for more alignment, collaboration, accountability, and innovation, as well as the need for equity.”

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA): “I applaud the Administration for focusing on this issue and building on the successes of the career and technical education programs that help so many students get the skills they need to be successful in the workplace,” Senator Murray said. “The economic struggles we’ve faced as a nation have made clear that it is more important than ever that students have access to quality CTE programs. These vital programs give them the skills and credentials they need to meet the demands of 21st century careers.”

Stanley Litow, IBM’s vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs and president of the IBM International Foundation: “I want to applaud the Department and Secretary Duncan’s work. This blueprint will better prepare America’s youth for college and careers. We often talk of a jobs crisis, but when you look at the data we really have a skills crisis and we really need action.”

Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA): “Career and Technical Education has the potential to create jobs that will keep Iowa’s young talent in the state and make American students more competitive in the global economy.  We should continue to focus on preparing students to secure good jobs and to help grow our economy.”

Congressman George Miller (D-CA): “I applaud Secretary Duncan for continuing to make career and technical education an important component of our educational system. Today’s global economy increasingly demands more high-skilled and better educated workers more than ever before.  For our students’ success and to rebuild our economy, our high schools and colleges must ensure that students learn the skills needed by American business and industries.”

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI): “I commend Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier for providing a starting point for the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. I wholeheartedly agree that CTE plays a central role in ensuring our students are both college- and career-ready. We cannot create the quality jobs our country needs unless we direct resources to support training programs that meet the needs of high-growth, high-demand and high-wage fields like biotechnology and information technology.”

Click here to read more about the CTE Blueprint.

Day Two Iowa: Improving Rural Economies & Transforming CTE

Richard Rice, a Hawkeye Community College student, shows Secretary Duncan a sculpture he designed in class. Official Department of Education photo by Paul Wood.

Richard Rice, a Hawkeye Community College student, shows Secretary Duncan a sculpture he designed in class. Official Department of Education photo by Paul Wood.

“I hadn’t taken an algebra class in 40 years,” community college student Jennifer DeLange told Secretary Duncan yesterday morning at a White House Rural Council Roundtable in Waterloo, Iowa. DeLange spent years working in a plastics factory, but when the plant shut down, she found herself unemployed in a tough job market. With the help of Trade Adjustment Assistance, DeLange enrolled at Hawkeye Community College and is working her way through the school’s LPN program.

The Hawkeye roundtable discussion was the first event during the second day of Duncan’s visit to the Midwest, and included Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Executive Director for the Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers at the Department of Labor, Jay Williams, as well as students, faculty and business leaders.

The roundtable discussion centered on the importance of improving rural economies by training and retraining workers for in-demand careers.  During the discussion, Williams spoke to the importance of career training, explaining that “not everyone is going to get a four-year degree, but you have to have skills beyond high school.” Read more about the Obama Administration’s Community College to Career proposal that would train two million workers for in jobs in high-demand industries.

Transforming Career and Technical Education

Duncan’s second stop of the day was at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa, where he joined Brenda Dann-Messier, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, to release the Obama Administration’s blueprint for transforming Career and Technical Education (CTE).

“It’s no surprise that rigorous, relevant, and results-driven CTE programs are vital to preparing students to succeed in the global economy of the 21st century,” Duncan said at the event.

Through a $1 billion investment in the Obama Administration’s FY 2013 budget, the Administration’s blueprint for reauthorizing the Perkins Act will transform the Perkins program in four key areas:

    • Alignment: Ensuring that the skills taught in CTE programs reflect the actual needs of the labor market so that CTE students acquire the 21st century skills necessary for in-demand occupations within high-growth industry sectors.
    • Collaboration: Incentivizing secondary schools, institutions of higher education, employers, and industry partners to work together to ensure that all CTE programs offer students high-quality learning opportunities.
    • Accountability: Requiring CTE programs to show, through common definitions and related performance measures, that they are improving academic outcomes and enabling students to build technical and job skills.
    • Innovation: Promoting systemic reform of state-level policies to support effective CTE implementation and innovation at the local level.

Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier, who outlined the four key areas above, explained that “our federal investment in CTE must be dramatically reshaped to fulfill its potential to prepare all students, regardless of their background or circumstances, for further education and cutting-edge careers.”

Click here to read more about the Blueprint and for related resources, read our post from day one of Duncan’s trip, and check out our Storify Story from day two.