Career and Technical Education Update

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Louisiana Senate Panel Approves More School Time For Technical Skills.
The AP (5/8) reports, “Louisiana could improve its high school graduation rate of 65 percent by allowing students who are not college bound to focus more of their classroom time on technical skills, a Senate committee voted on Thursday.” The plan constitutes “an expansion of the state’s existing programs that allow some students to get credit for studying trades if they don’t want to go to a four-year college after graduation.” Under the new rules, “requirements for graduation would be less oriented toward college preparation, allowing career option students to satisfy the requirement for English credits, for instance, by taking technical writing classes at a technical school.” Some senators, however, voiced concern “that students will focus only on their technical classes” at the expense of basic education needs. Currently, there is “a similar bill in the House.”

Louisiana’s Advocate (5/8, 9A, Sentell) reports that the committee’s approval marks “a sharp turnaround,” noting that “behind-the-scenes talks produced a revamped proposal backed by legislative leaders, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office and state Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek.” The current version of the bill would give students “latitude” on two of the four required English credits, make some of the four required math credits “similar to technical college math classes,” and link two of the three science credits to career plans. “Students would have to earn at least seven other credits that relate to their career plans.” The status of social studies credits would be unaffected. “Students who meet the requirements would earn a career diploma, which would be recognized by the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.”

From ACTE
Sustainability Webinar
Everyone talks about the “green economy,” but questions remain. To help provide answers, ACTE, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education, the American Association of Communities Colleges and Green for All will be co-sponsoring a free Webinar, “Education for the Green Economy: Opportunities, Resources and Models,” May 20, from 4:00p.m. to 5:00p.m. EST. It will cover types of green jobs; green professional development, certification and curricular material for teachers at the high school and community college levels; and partnership models between businesses, government and educators to create more effective entry, re-entry and professional development for workers in the green economy. All you need is a computer and a phone line. To register, visit https://ciscosales.webex.com/ciscosales/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=206649102.

Region III Conference: Stronger Together … The Leadership Edge!
June 15-17, 2009 Burlington, Iowa
Region III has developed the best professional development you could attend this summer. Learn the latest on Perkins, academic integration, CTE in the green economy, how to build highly effective associations and the impact of today’s economy on CTE. For the latest conference news, visit Region’s III Web site or contact Dave Bunting, Iowa ACTE Executive Director. Register today and save!

Free Education News
Inside Higher Ed, the free, daily online source of news, ideas and jobs in higher education, recently met with ACTE leaders to discuss issues and the way the Web site can better cover our members. Inside Higher Ed will provide you a free daily e-mail with updates on the news and links to thousands of jobs. All you need to do is send your name, e-mail address, job title and institution to info@insidehighered.com

Also, Scott Jaschik, the editor at Inside Higher Ed, would love to know when members are in town so you can brief the Inside Higher Ed staff. Feel free to contact him at scott.jaschik@insidehighered.com.

Career and Technical Education
Georgia Technical College Boasts 94.2% Employment Rate.
WCTV-TV Thomasville, Georgia (5/7) reported, “For the second consecutive year, Southwest Georgia Technical College in Thomasville, Georgia ranks number one among all of the Georgia’s technical colleges in the area of job placement for its graduates.” Student Affairs Vice President Joyce Halstead noted, “Most students are employed before they ever graduate. If they’re doing an internship and they’re doing a good job and the employer has vacancy then they just snatch them right up.” School officials “attribute the success of their graduates to partnerships with businesses throughout South Georgia.” According to “the 2008 data report compiled by the State of Georgia…94.2% of graduates from Workforce Investment Act eligible programs at SWGTC were employed two quarters after graduation.”

Career Fair Allows Students To Sample Local Job Opportunities.
Following a report from the Greene County (IN) Daily World on the Tri-County Career Fair held at the WestGate Tri-County Technology Park on Thursday, the Greene County (IN) Daily World (5/7, Schneider) reported that “about 500 junior high and high students” attended the event “to learn about current and future job opportunities close to home.” The fair “featured 25 walk-through educational stations operated by private defense contractors, NSA Crane specialty group teams, local businesses, a fire department, a utility company, an area training center and community college.” At each station, “the groups and organizations demonstrated their goods and products and told the students about the skill and educational training required to fill the growing number of jobs in the tech park.” One official noted, “Knowing more about local employment options will help the students tailor their high school, technical school and college plans so they can live and work in this area after graduation.”

North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor To Address Technical College Graduation.
The Fayetteville (NC) Observer (5/8) reports, “Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, a former six-term state senator, will address the graduates of Fayetteville Technical Community College at their graduation” later this month. “Dalton authored the Innovative Education Act and created the Learn and Earn program, which customized learning and allowed students to get a head start on a college degree or a trade.” The program has since been “named one of the top 50 innovative programs by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.”

School Focuses Curricular Instruction On Current, Future Environmental Challenges.
The Carroll County (MD) Times (5/8, Oland) reports on Eldersburg Elementary School, which “was designated a Maryland Green School by The Maryland Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education” last month in recognition of the school’s use of “curricular instruction to prepare students to act on current and future environmental challenges.” Recently, a local television meteorologist hosted a weather workshop, complete with an anemometer demonstration. “As part of the second-grade weather curriculum, students will become meteorologists,” learning about the science of weather and eventually creating forecasts for each of the four seasons. Officials “said the school boasts many features that help students become more aware of the environment.” For example, “fourth-graders built a rain garden to halt polluted parking lot runoff,” and “fifth graders erected 14 bluebird boxes.”

Competition Has Students Design Door Handles For People With Disabilities.
Following a story reported by KHON-TV Honolulu, Hawaii, regarding the recent Career and Technical Education 3D Design and Printing competition, a press release (5/4) noted that students had “one day to design the product and the next day to present their idea and…prototype to a panel of professional engineers and educators.” The students were tasked with designing a door handle for people with physical challenges. “CTE programs are offered in all of Hawaii’s public high schools and community colleges,” and “student performance-based events such as the 3D Design and Printing Competition are all part of Hawaii’s Career Pathway system that the CTE Center supports.”

Regulation
DOE Budget Cuts Off Funding For Fuel-Cell Vehicles.
The New York Times (5/8, A18, Wald) reports, “Cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells, once hailed by President George W. Bush as a pollution-free solution for reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, will not be practical over the next 10 to 20 years,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu “said Thursday, and the government will cut off funds for the vehicles’ development. Developing those cells and coming up with a way to transport the hydrogen is a big challenge…Chu said in releasing energy-related details of the administration’s budget for the year beginning Oct. 1.” He “said the government preferred to focus on projects that would bear fruit more quickly.” Bloomberg News (5/8, Seeley) and the Detroit News (5/7, Shepardson, Trowbridge) also reported the story.

Public Policy

President’s 2010 Budget Said To Leave Higher Education Relatively Unchanged.
The Chronicle of Higher Education (5/8, Field) reports, “President Obama’s budget for the Department of Education for the 2010 fiscal year would leave spending on most student-aid programs unchanged, but would largely spare higher education the program eliminations seen elsewhere in his budget.” Spending levels would remain basically unchanged for Federal Work-Study, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, “career- and technical-education programs and the TRIO and Gear Up programs.” And although the budget calls for the elimination of “12 Education Department programs worth $550-million, only one of them is a postsecondary program,” which according to the article “the president would more than make up for the cut with a proposed $2.5-billion fund for college access and completion.” Additionally, “Mr. Obama’s budget would also increase the maximum Pell Grant by $200, to $5,500.”

NSF Grant To Provide Scholarships For Iowa Science Students.
KWQC-TV Davenport, Iowa (5/7) reported that “on Thursday, the Eastern Iowa Community College District and St. Ambrose University announced they have received a National Science Foundation grant” that “will provide scholarships to students planning to major in Biology and Chemistry.” Officials said the grant provides “a two-fold benefit,” as it will allow the schools “to increase our numbers in our program,” as well as graduate “more people with science degrees in the local community.” The officials noted that, “locally…science jobs are available across-the-board, but especially in natural resources and in conservation,” and “now is a good time to study science, even with the tough economy, because it’s an ever growing and changing field.”

Workforce
US Jobless Claims Declined Last Week.
The Wall Street Journal (5/8, Lahart) reports, “A drop in new jobless claims added to evidence that the worst of the recession is over and the economy may be heading toward recovery.” The Labor Department said Thursday “the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell 34,000 to 601,000 in the week ended May 2.” But “economists estimate that Friday’s jobs report will show that the economy lost 610,000 jobs in April, with the unemployment rate rising to 8.9% from March’s 8.5%.” The speed with which “companies have cut workers — in the first three months of the year, the economy lost more than two million jobs — was evident in a separate Labor Department report Thursday.” Productivity “at nonfarm businesses rose at a 0.8% annual rate in the first quarter, after declining by a revised 0.6% rate in the final three months of last year. Productivity increased because total U.S. nonfarm output fell at an 8.2% rate, while total hours worked by employees fell by 9%, the steepest decline since 1975.” The Financial Times (5/8, Rappeport), Bloomberg News (5/8, Chandra, Willis), and the AP (5/8) also report the story.

Older Workers Likely To Enjoy Career Change Despite Shortcomings.
The AP (5/8) reports, “Older workers and retirees moving into different lines of work can take heart from a new study that finds they are likely to enjoy their new jobs more than their old ones.” Despite the shortcomings, “there’s new evidence which suggests that career changes work out well for the overwhelming majority of older workers because of reduced stress and flexible work schedules.” AARP followed over-50 workers “for more than a decade to study career changes and find out how they fared. In all, 91 percent of the study group said they enjoyed their new jobs, a significant bump up from a 79 percent thumbs-up for their old jobs.” Already common, “career change among older workers is likely to grow even more as the baby-boom generation nears traditional retirement age.”

Some Auto Industry Suppliers Moving To Wind-Power Equipment.
The AP (5/8) reports on the “dozens of companies…have their traded auto-related business for a niche in wind-power.” The Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association has said that “more than a third of” auto parts makers and other suppliers “in industry polling that they are in deep financial trouble.” However, “about 700 Michigan manufacturers now do wind-industry work,” and there is a similar trend in Ohio, where many companies “are either hedging their bets on their auto industry work or leaving it behind.” Industry experts said “the shift to the wind industry was a natural for many. … While parts for wind turbines can be much larger, the process of making them is much the same.” And while “the wind industry is not immune to recession,” companies that have made the switch say they are “doing relatively well compared to suppliers that still rely heavily on Detroit.”

Great Lakes Bay Region To Expand Job Training, Youth Programs With Stimulus Funds.
The Michigan Business Review (5/7, English) reported, “Federal stimulus money will greatly expand job training and re-training programs in the Great Lakes Bay Region this year,” as well as “pay for a summer youth jobs program expected to help 1,000 disadvantaged young people.” The area workforce agency is receiving nearly $5 million, and “will use the funds to help people with anything from learning basic skills, such as using computers, to providing stipends to help defray the cost of college courses.” Officials noted that “the increase in funding could nearly double the number of people who receive training this year to 1,500.” In response to funding statewide through the Workforce Investment Act, Gov. Jennifer Granholm noted, “Having a highly skilled and educated work force is critical to our efforts to diversify the state’s economy.”

Employers Encouraged To Participate In Workforce Development Programs.
In an article for the Milwaukee Small Business Times (5/7), Mike Mortell, coordinator for Regional Workforce Alliance (RWA) / Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED), noted the importance of a young person’s first job, “a rite of passage into the working world” that has become harder to come by given the current economic situation. However, Mortell noted, the three workforce development boards that serve the Milwaukee 7 region “have each been awarded expanded funding through the federal Workforce Investment Act to administer large-scale youth job programs this summer.” Mortell argued that participation in the program is a win for both young people and employers. Youths receive “valuable, on-the-job experience,” and also “will complete a training session to help prepare for the work environment.” Meanwhile, “workforce boards can offer benefits, including subsidized wages” and workers’ compensation insurance, meaning “very little direct expense” for employers. Mortell concludes by encouraging employers to participate and providing contact information for area program coordinators.

Also in the News
Biomass Electricity More Efficient Than Biofuels, Study Finds.
California’s Mercury News (5/8, Torrice) reports, “Ethanol from plants can fill up drivers’ gas tanks, but people could drive 80 percent farther if we converted those crops into electricity, according to a new study by Stanford and University of California researchers.” In terms of converting plants into energy, the scientists considered conversion “into ethanol through fermentation” and converting the plants into electricity by burning biomass to power electrical generators. The researchers “compared the energy costs and output of the electricity and ethanol produced from the same patch of land,” and concluded “that an acre of switch grass could power a small SUV for 15,000 miles if converted into electricity, but 8,000 miles if turned into ethanol.” Biofuel advocates counter that “battery technology is still developing,” while ethanol uses technology that “is currently cheaper and more accessible.” The researchers conceded “that their calculations do not account for every factor in comparing the two energies.”

The Financial Times (5/8, Cookson) adds that “bioelectricity was a clear winner over bioethanol, whether the energy came from corn or switchgrass (a new cellulose-based crop). A car powered by bioelectricity could travel almost 14,000 miles on the net energy from an acre of switchgrass, while a car powered by bioethanol from the same crop would go only 9,000 miles.” Bloomberg News (5/8, van Loon) reports that the researchers studied “land-use efficiency, or how much transportation can be achieved per acre of cropland that’s being used to produce plants for energy.”

The study also found “the electricity option would be twice as effective at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions,” Technology Review (5/8, Hamilton) reports. In addition, “there’s also the potential, according to the study, of capturing and storing the carbon dioxide emissions from power plants that use switchgrass, wood chips, and other biomass materials as fuel — an option that doesn’t exist for burning ethanol.” The findings are said to “imply that investment in an ethanol infrastructure, even if based on more efficient cellulosic processes, may prove misguided.”

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