Thank you for inviting me to address you today. I'm sorry I'm not with you in person, but due to my schedule and demands on me before the end of the year, I was not able to accommodate a trip to New Orleans.
I am very familiar with the Association for Career and Technical Education, having served two years as Dean of Workforce Development at Ivy Tech State College in Indiana, that State's two-year technical college. In fact, I addressed your organization twice during my tenure at Ivy Tech, once in Indianapolis and most recently in Louisville, Kentucky.
With the upcoming reauthorization of the Carl Perkins Act and the Workforce Investment Acts, we have a unique opportunity to design a state of the art vocational and adult education system for the 21st century. I look forward to working with you over the coming months and years as we craft a new future for career and technical education.
We need to consider the future in light of the external environment that is forcing change in vocational education, and the guiding principles the Bush Administration sees as critical for all students.
The two most important factors we need to consider are the demands of the new economy, and the fact that 80 percent of the jobs that are growing and providing self-supporting salaries require some postsecondary education and training, though not necessarily a bachelor's degree. Another external factor is the inevitable shortage of workers in the U.S. and the need to prepare ALL young people to be fully engaged in this new economy. There is compelling evidence that we need to do a far better job in high school of preparing young adults for their future.
Our office will focus on examining the secondary, postsecondary, and adult education systems in light of these realities. We are challenging you to think boldly with us about how the federal government should support high schools, community colleges, and adult education programs to provide state of the art education and technical training. We are asking such questions as:
- What is the effectiveness of current vocational education in preparing young people for post secondary education and work?
- How can students receive a strong academic foundation, make informed choices, avoid remediation in postsecondary education, and reduce the high number of "false starts" that U.S. students currently make when entering the postsecondary environment?
- What are the barriers that inhibit the ability of secondary and post secondary institutions to deliver quality technical training?
- What are promising practices for the delivery of technical education and training?
As we craft a new blueprint for vocational and technical education we will consider the four core principles of this Administration:
1. The First Principle: Close the Achievement Gaps
We need to ensure all young people coming out of high school are prepared for postsecondary education and training delivered in colleges, universities, and businesses. We need to understand better the contributions of vocational and career education in closing the achievement gap between what high school students know when they leave school and what they should know to be successful in college and on the job.
2. The Second Principle: Focus Dollars on What Works
We will be looking for successful strategies in increasing achievement of young people and adults. We will evaluate and support programs based on the extent to which they are proven to increase achievement.
3. The Third Principle: Reduce Bureaucracy and Increase Flexibility
We are interested in reducing burdensome regulations and reporting requirements while maintaining emphasis on accountability for results. We also want to find ways to maximize your flexibility to do your jobs.
We realize that adopting the mission of bringing ALL students to high levels of achievement is the most challenging mission that you, as educators, can embrace. You certainly don't need to be hampered by outmoded regulations and needless paperwork that doesn't relate to this mission.
4. The Fourth Principle: Increase Options for Students
We want to find ways to move away from the "one size fits all" approach that dominates the delivery of high school, postsecondary, and adult education. We need to offer students more choices in how they participate in their own education.
We need your ideas and guidance as we re-examine the areas of career, technical and adult education along these principles. We will work with the leadership of ACTE on how we can work together toward developing the federal framework that will maximize your efforts and help us achieve our mutual goal of leaving no child behind or, for that matter, leaving no student, youth, or adult, behind. You, as educators, leaders, and researchers concerned with career and technical education, play a vital role in shaping educational opportunities that bring out the best in every student.
I look forward to working with you and for opportunities for us to talk face-to-face. Enjoy your time in New Orleans and best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season.