Advocacy Examples

Knowing other states’ CTE advocacy activities, strategies and outcomes is useful when generating ideas, planning agendas and executing effective action. Below is a list of advocacy strategies and activities states that have been used to engage members, raise awareness of CTE and influence policy. To share your advocacy efforts and expertise with ACTE and your colleagues, e-mail your state’s advocacy efforts to Jarrod Nagurka, ACTE’s Advocacy and Public Affairs Manager. Together, we can make a difference.

Arkansas Promotes CTE Through Advocacy, Student Involvement and Teacher Training Sessions

For years, Arkansas has been recognized as a leader in career and technical education and continues to promote the field in many ways. By advocating for CTE with our Members of Congress, student-affiliated organizations, secondary and post secondary student competitions and in-service sessions to update instructors, Arkansas has put CTE at the forefront to insure success for students and teachers alike.

Each year, Arkansas ACTE sends a delegation to ACTE’s National Policy Seminar. Our delegation advocates for CTE by meeting with our Members of Congress and providing them with updates on CTE in Arkansas. During the meeting, we demonstrate how continued financial support through the Perkins Act and the Workforce Investment Act has and will continue to benefit CTE programs and our community. Arkansas ACTE lets our Members of Congress know that the majority of college graduates are the product of some sort of CTE at the secondary level, even if they did not major in a particular CTE field. It is important that our legislators hear the needs of our classrooms and campuses and understand that CTE makes a positive impact on industry and Arkansas’ economy.

Arkansas ACTE provides instructors with many education sessions in all areas of CTE at our August Conference. These sessions cover training and updates and on computer software technology, legislative alerts and Perkins funding, online student assessment and accountability measures, as well as helping schools receive funding for program improvement initiative. At this conference, many vendors showcase the latest instruction materials available, including computer software, CD-ROMs and well-developed textbooks. Concurrent sessions cover career and technical legislation, as well as changes in instructional methods for the coming year.

Arkansas ACTE hosts career-development events that offer secondary and postsecondary CTE students a chance to compete and compare their skill with students in other learning institution. The competition involves all areas of CTE and relate directly to classroom instruction both at the secondary and postsecondary levels. Our local winners have the option to compete at the national level.

The relationships students develop with leaders from all areas of industry and business are vital links that benefit the students as they graduate and begin to pursue their careers. We feel it is important to produce graduates who are prepared to meet the growing demands of the work place. As Arkansas prepares to welcome the new automobile industry to our state, out CTE programs are ready to meet the needs of this industry with well-trained workers. Educating students using current technology remains our focus. Arkansas believes that two keys to properly training students are qualified instructors and cutting edge technology in the classroom.

Finally, an active ACTE organization with committed members is the final key to keeping CTE on track. Member recognition and the benefits of being part of an educator-driven association like ACTE form the core of CTE success for administrators, counselors and instructors in Arkansas.

For more information, contact Kyle Sanders, past president of Arkansas ACTE, at

ACTE of Arizona Hosts Policy Seminar and Advocacy Luncheon

Preparing teachers to advocate for career and technology education was the theme at the Third Annual Policy Seminar sponsored by the Association of Career and Technology Education of Arizona (ACTEAZ) at the end of February and beginning of March 2005. The ACTEAZ executive board conducted the advocacy training, titled “Make an Impact.” Participants learned about state and national CTE issues, the difference between advocacy and lobbying, working with decision-makers at the local, state and national levels and how to meet with legislators.

That emphasis was continued during the ACTEAZ “Luncheon on the Lawn,” which followed the seminar, and continues throughout the association’s year-round activities. Corporate sponsors and ACTEAZ hosted the “Luncheon on the Lawn” at the Arizona State Senate lawn, where teachers, students and business representatives teamed up to visit with state senators and representatives. The Luncheon theme was “CTE Works!” and student and corporate speakers talked with our legislators, highlighting the successes and challenges for local CTE students and programs. CTE students also visited with legislators one on one during lunch, as well as serving as hosts for the big event. Arizona CTSO officers also discussed the ways that CTE changed their lives and explained how imperative it is that all students participate in CTE, as well as academic classes, in order to be well-rounded and prepared for the workforce and post-secondary education.

The luncheon closed with the presentation of a proclamation signed by Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, declaring CTE Week. The proclamation was presented and read by the Arizona Secretary of State, Jan Brewer.

For more information, contact Patti K. Beltram from Arizona ACTE, at

California ACTE Is Committed to Strengthening Career and Technical Education Through Networking and Building Relationships With Legislators

Within less than a year from its formation, the California Association for Career and Technical Education (CACTE) has engaged in numerous state advocacy activities. CACTE Board members have involved themselves in several state committees and advocacy groups. In 2004, the highly influential Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) created a Career Technical Education State Council. A CACTE board member is the current president of this CTE State Council. ACSA is the legislative advocacy group for all school administrators in California. The CTE State Council was created to be the primary body that communicates CTE issues to ACSA’s lobbyist.

Another advocacy group with strong representation from CACTE is the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs (CAROCP). Regional occupational centers and programs offer CTE instruction to high school students and adults in both classroom and business settings. CAROCP members can join ACTE as part of their membership-renewal process each year.

To advocate and demonstrate the success of CTE, CACTE members met with their Members of Congress during the 2005 National Policy Seminar in Washington, DC. During their visits they shared results from the University of California, Riverside study that showed California regional occupational students earned more money, received more promotions and were just as likely to go to college when compared to non-CTE students from the same schools.

CACTE also encourages all CTE educators to become involved in the legislative process. Educational sessions and workshops are held during state conferences on how to work with state legislators, as well as how to conduct briefings with legislative staff on CTE issues.

Even though CACTE recently started, we have become visible and have made an impact. CACTE looks forward to having an ever-growing influence on CTE issues within the largest part of our state.

For more information, contact Ross Arnold, CACTE executive director, at, or Dr. Laurel Adler from California ACTE at

Looming Funding Threats has Georgia ACTE Teaming up With Career and Technical Education Community to Cultivate Working Relationships with Legislators

For the past several years, Georgia’s CTE programs have faced funding threats. Each year we closely watch state budget proposals to protect against hits to our programs. Last year there was a huge cut for vocational lab supervisors in the 2005 budget. Teaming up with educators, business people, and the Georgia Department of Education staff, we campaigned against these cuts. Georgia ACTE partnered with business and industry leaders and created a strategy to reach legislators. The construction, automobile, marketing, hospitality, and agriculture industries were major contributors in getting our message to legislators on the importance of full funding for CTE. Through these business and industry leaders, Georgia ACTE affiliates were able to cultivate relationships with the business community and helped establish contacts within each industry. Several of our business partners, such as the construction industry and the automobile industry, wrote letters on our behalf and CTE educators called their state legislators.

In another effort to campaign against the proposed funding cuts, Georgia ACTE started a state-wide e-mail campaign to let our legislators know what funding cuts would mean to CTE in our state. Similar to ACTE’s action alerts, our e-mails asked members, teachers and CTE administrators to contact their local legislators and ask for funding support for CTE. Georgia ACTE members forwarded the e-mails to others involved in CTE and asked them to contact their legislators. CTE staff also held State Department of Education meetings across Georgia to advocate for funding and oppose any cuts to CTE. Through our efforts we were able to keep our money in the budget and avoid further cuts.

Georgia ACTE advocates for CTE at the federal level by building relationships with our legislators. Legislators need to understand the importance of CTE and what budget cuts mean for educators and the people in our community. Throughout the year, we cultivate relationships with our legislators by arranging visits, continually communicating our successes and issues of concern to CTE, and inviting them into our classrooms. Legislators need to see how CTE is on the cutting edge and how our programs are valuable to the students and the community.

For more information, contact Matthew Gambill, Georgia ACTE executive director, at

Illinois Faces CTE Challenges With a Network of Leaders

The Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Community Colleges Board determined that a collaborative network of career and technical education (CTE) experts was needed to ensure the success of CTE in their state. In response, they created the Illinois Career and Technical Education Leadership Institute (ICTELI). Through ICTELI, a select group of CTE administrators, called “scholars,” participate in a one-year program focused on the development of leadership in advocacy, policy, data-based decision making, institutional leadership, and bureaucracy negotiation. Participating in workshops, seminars, statewide conferences and ACTE’s National Policy Seminar, scholars develop an Individual Leadership Development Plan designed to help them achieve their career goals while emphasizing leadership development skills

Scholars have used their leadership skills to reach out to their communities and legislators. For example, Janice Stoettner, a scholar and the Assistant Director and Project Facilitator for the Career Development System (CDS) in Oak Forest, has written press releases to local newspapers regarding funding threats to CTE and the potential effects of the proposed cuts on Illinois’ future workforce. Stoettner’s innovative team at the Career Development System also developed a picture booklet entitled, “A Picture is Worth 1000 Words: Career and Tech Ed $ At Work in the CDS Region.” The booklet provides a visual understanding of the different CTE career paths, and helps CDS gain support from legislators and the community.

ICTELI is in its second program year and has already developed a network of experts who is ready and willing to advocate for CTE.

For more information, contact Tom Hott, executive director of Illinois ACTE, at

Indiana ACTE Connects Their Members to Their Legislators Through a “Day at the Capitol” and at the National Policy Seminar

Indiana ACTE (I-ACTE) hosts a ‘Day at the Capitol’ during CTE Week. This event helps connect I-ACTE members to their state legislators and promotes the value and success of CTE to lawmakers. During Day at the Capitol, I-ACTE awards excellent CTE programs and the awardees’ legislators are invited to attend the ceremony. Awardees also tour the Capitol and attend a House or Senate session.

I-ACTE also promotes and sends people to the National Policy Seminar. One of our advocacy goals this year is to “Tell Our Story” by sending stories of “Best CTE Practices” to the legislators around the state.

For more information, contact Lou Anne Schwenn from Indiana ACTE at

Iowa ACTE Secures the Future of CTE Through Student Advocacy

Career and Technical Education (CTE) students in Iowa are involved in advocacy at the state and national levels. Students from each of the career disciplines annually come to the state capitol in Des Moines to learn about the legislative process, meet with legislators to discuss critical CTE issues, and are recognized during our awards ceremony. Last year, over 130 students attended this day-long event.

With funding assistance from Iowa’s Association for Career & Technical Education, students attend the National Policy Seminar in Washington D.C. each year to learn about key national issues affecting CTE and meet with their Members of Congress to share the importance of these issues for the future of CTE.

For more information, contact Dave Bunting from Iowa ACTE at

Kentucky ACTE’s Multi-Level Advocacy Approach Strengthens Support From Legislators, State and the Public

Kentucky ACTE (KACTE) holds annual meetings with our Members of Congress, resulting in their support for CTE. In the 108th Congress, Representative Hal Rogers (now the second-ranked Member of the House Appropriations Committee in the 109th Congress) issued a private communication to the Appropriations Committee chair and the chair of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, asking for an increase in funding for the Perkins program. Representatives Ed Whitfield, a Republican, and Ben Chandler, a Democrat, signed a bipartisan “Dear Colleague” letter asking for support for Perkins funding. In the House Appropriations Subcommittee, Representative Anne M. Northup also supported Perkins funding.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of CTE in the state of Kentucky, KACTE showed our Members of Congress the accountability data provided by the three state agencies with oversight of CTE and anecdotal evidence from teachers about students’ success. KACTE acknowledges and thanks our Members of Congress for their ongoing support for CTE and attributes the passage of the 1998 Perkins reauthorization bill, which improved performance and accountability measures, to their enthusiastic efforts.

KACTE has partnered with the Kentucky Department of Education/Division of Career and Technical Education and the Education Cabinet/Office of Career and Technical Education to educate the public and local organizations about the importance of CTE programs for ensuring the state’s economic security and workforce viability. The centerpiece of this new initiative will be articles about CTE written for associations and trade organizations, each customized with data applicable for the specific industry being addressed.

As an example, for associations and trade organizations related to the manufacturing sector, we cite Census Bureau data on manufacturing in Kentucky, which contributes more than $100 billion in annual sales and employs more than 330,000 individuals. The new and replacement workers keeping the sector viable and strong – and which allow businesses to expand or locate in Kentucky – are sustained and enhanced through CTE programs. The goal is to heighten awareness of CTE in each group and have multiple organizations, even those with seemingly disparate objectives, all supporting CTE. We are already finding the approach successful. The Kentucky Farm Bureau placed support for CTE and the Perkins Act reauthorization on its list of 2005 legislative priorities. In meeting with Kentucky’s congressional staff during the 2005 ACTE National Policy Seminar, Members of Congress had more awareness of CTE-related issues than in previous years, and several noted the Farm Bureau’s support. Both Senators, Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning, subsequently voted yes on the Perkins Act Reauthorization.

Various associations and trade organizations provide the financial support necessary to conduct a Student Organization Leadership Day each year in the state capitol during Career and Technical Education Week. This is a testament to the importance they place on CTE programs to maintain their workforce, and also sends a message to Kentucky’s legislators and policy leaders that CTE programs have a broad base of support. Included in the awareness effort are floor amendments passed in each house of the state legislature recognizing CTE Week and the Student Organizations and a governor’s proclamation. In Kentucky, we have found that awareness of CTE starts with demonstrating its importance in multiple areas – CTE touches virtually every life in the state. When people realize this, support naturally follows.

For more information, contact Mike Stone, KACTE executive director, at

Minnesota ACTE Uses Research to Garner Support From Legislators

For the 2004 CTE Association’s fall conference Minnesota ACTE (MnACTE) invited the K-12 Senate Chair and presented him with an award for his continued efforts on behalf of CTE. After the awards presentation, MnACTE gave a power point presentation that we developed for the Minnesota state legislators based upon the NAVE report. The K-12 Senate Chair was impressed with the findings of the NAVE report and invited us to speak about CTE to his entire K-12 education committee. MnACTE then contacted the House K-12 Chair, who is now our new Commissioner of Education, and she also agreed to have us present to her entire K-12 committee.

Due to these efforts, the Minnesota House and the Senate will introduce a bill in the 2005 session asking for state categorical funding for CTE technology, new program start-up, transportation funds for schools that share programs in our rural areas, and supplemental state funding in addition to our current local levy for CTE.

In 1980 we had $23 million in state funding for CTE, but currently we have NO state funding and rely only on our local levy. Because of our Association’s continued efforts during the past five years with the previous K-12 House Chairman, we are making progress with our new Commissioner. She is currently speaking at various meetings around the state, and recently told all of our K-12 Superintendents that Minnesota needs to do more for CTE programs than just funding a local levy.

For more information, contact Arlin Melgaard from Minnesota ACTE at

From the First Day the State Legislature Begins, Mississippi ACTE’s Members and Students Promote Career and Technical Education

Through most of the months of January through March, Mississippi ACTE (MS ACTE) works with legislators to promote CTE. MS ACTE publishes a list of legislative goals in our fall newsletter and a copy is sent to each of our state legislators before the legislative session starts in January.

MS ACTE also hosts a Legislative Day in January, where state student organizations and legislators meet for breakfast at the Capitol and students later meet with their legislators in their offices. Students invite their legislators to attend a reception catered by high school career centers and community colleges’ food service departments. The reception allows MS ACTE members to mingle and visit while promoting CTE.

MS ACTE members are encouraged to visit their legislators during our spring meeting and to attend ACTE’s National Policy Seminar. Throughout the year, if any CTE issues arise, our legislative chair activates our telephone tree alerting members to take action.

For more information, contact Cheryl Carr, MS ACTE executive director, at

ACTE of Nebraska Brings Together Students and Legislators for a Workshop Designed to Educate Each Other on Their Prospective Fields

Every February the Family and Consumer Science Teachers of Nebraska organize a legislative workshop. Teachers and students from across the state come to listen to a guest state Senator who discusses the legislative process in Nebraska. Students have the opportunity to ask questions concerning bills of interest to them and join other Senators for our luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion. During lunch, each Senator is ‘assigned’ to a student or group of students from his or her district, and the students have the opportunity to explain what they do and how family and consumer science programs in their state contribute to education in their schools. A large number of Senators attend because they enjoy visiting and hearing from students. To get a better understanding of the legislative process, after lunch students attend committee hearings at the state capitol.

The legislative workshop and luncheon is a great way to place our organization in a positive and professional light and to build a new base of CTE student advocates.

For more information, contact Kathy Gifford from Nebraska ACTE at

The Voice of Career and Technical Education Is Carried Through Ohio ACTE?s Advocacy Actions Involving Legislative Seminars, Statehouse Luncheons and Marketing Campaigns

Each January Ohio ACTE holds a two-day legislative seminar in Columbus. The career-technical and adult education (CTAE) community shares its legislative priorities and concerns with the General Assembly via personal visits to each legislator’s office. Additionally, we invite legislators, state board of education members, and national figures to participate in the seminar program, either as presenters or members of the audience. In the evening of the first day of the seminar, Ohio ACTE hosts a reception for legislators and key legislative staff members, and recognizes the public servant of the year. In 2005, over 90 of the 133 state representatives and senators’ offices were represented at the seminar.

Ohio ACTE also has an annual statehouse luncheon, where Career and Technical Student Organization state officers give brief addresses to legislators and/or their staff. Before the luncheon, CTAE students, teachers and administrators meet with their legislators to learn more about state government and discuss their successes in CTE. A total of 520 legislators, students, teachers and administrators attended this function in 2005.

In order to disseminate information and make timely legislative contacts, Ohio ACTE has developed an e-mail network rapid response system made up of Ohio ACTE members from across the state. The rapid response system is triggered by the chair of our legislative committee or by the Ohio ACTE office, and each member of the legislative network receives immediate legislative alerts and suggested follow-up actions.

In 2005, 89 Ohio ACTE members and guests participated in ACTE’s National Policy Seminar (NPS), and personal visits were made to every Ohio Congressional Representatives’ and Senators’ office. During NPS, we host an Ohio Breakfast prior to the Hill visits to assure that every Congressional office is being covered and to review our talking points prior to the office visits.
Ohio ACTE is joining forces with CTAE divisions and associations and a professional public relations firm to develop a statewide marketing message to enhance the image of CTE. Our marketing message will be used to impact legislators, to create and enhance existing avenues of partnerships, and to create a consistent, articulate theme that is identifiable and consistent throughout the layers of CTAE. This initiative will result in an electronic and print media product package that will play statewide and be available for adaptation by local districts.

For more information, contact Darrell Parks, executive director of Ohio ACTE, at

Oklahoma ACTE Targets State Elections to Advocate for Career and Technical Education

Oklahoma ACTE (OkACTE) targeted the 2004 Oklahoma state elections in our advocacy efforts to promote CTE. Each running candidate received a survey asking their positions on education and CTE. The data from the surveys was made available to OkACTE members to help keep them informed on candidates’ positions and political issues facing CTE. Many OkACTE members also held site visits of their technology centers, skills centers and comprehensive schools for candidates. It is OkACTE’s goal to establish a relationship with elected candidates and to provide candidates with a better understanding of CTE and the value CTE provides to the community.

OkACTE also informed our members of a number of state questions on the November ballot that, if passed, would provide new dollars for CTE and education in general for the state of Oklahoma.

For more information, contact Cheryl Harder, assistant director of OkACTE, at

South Carolina ACTE Mentors New Comers on the Legislative Process and Strategies Impacting Career and Technical Education

For over 25 years, the South Carolina ACTE has appointed a federal legislative committee to monitor legislative proceedings and attend ACTE’s National Policy Seminar (NPS). It is vitally important for all committee members to learn how to conduct Hill visits and advocate for CTE programs and positions. South Carolina ACTE encourages experienced federal legislative committee members to remain on the committee for several years and to “show the ropes” to new committee members.

If committee members have visited an office [on Capitol Hill] the previous year, they are asked to revisit the same office the following year. This system lends itself to relationship building with House and Senate staffers. Occasionally, the Member of Congress will be available for the Hill visit, but contact and communication is usually with staffers who are responsible for education.

Hill packets, containing a position statement and fact sheets on state and local CTE programs, are developed in conjunction with the South Carolina Department of Education, Office of Career and Technology Education, and are distributed to the education staff person of our Members of Congress. For a greater advocacy impact, it is essential for the state association and the state educational agency to be in agreement on all positions and to speak with one voice prior to the Hill visits.

After NPS Hill visits, the real work begins. Thank you letters and e-mails are sent to Members of Congress and their staff. The lead committee members maintain contact with the education staffers year round and provide information and positions on hearings or votes that affect the future of CTE. South Carolina ACTE stresses the importance of relationship building with Members of Congress and their staff to the point where we know their first names and what they represent.

For more information, contact Nick Milasnovich from South Carolina ACTE at

South Dakota ACTE Teams With Professional Lobbyist to Increase Career and Technical Education Funding

In 1994 the South Dakota state legislature ended funding designated to secondary CTE programs. Since that time secondary CTE enrollment in our state has declined 12 percent, the number of programs is down 25 percent and the number of completers declined 44 percent.

Through 2001-2004, the South Dakota Association for Career and Technical Education (SDACTE) has fought hard to restore state funding for secondary CTE. We increased our advocacy efforts by hiring a lobbyist and regularly informing legislators to the status of South Dakota’s CTE programs. SDACTE also has a CTE Ambassadors list to coordinate informational efforts in every legislative district, and our members communicate with CTE Ambassadors through our e-mail listserv.

Our advocacy efforts really caught fire in June through October 2002 with testimony at hearings held by the South Dakota Legislature’s Interim School Finance Committee. SDACTE’s ad hoc committee on CTE funding spearheaded legislation considered in the 2003 and 2004 legislative sessions.

Although we did not get everything we asked for, the 2004 state legislature funded the Secondary CTE Enhancement Program at $500,000. We will continue our fight in the 2005 legislative session.

For more information, contact Robert Bell, SDACTE executive director, at

Students, Teachers, Administrators Meet With Their Legislators During Washington ACTE’s Legislative Policy Seminar

Each year Washington ACTE (WA-ACTE) holds a Legislative Policy Seminar in conjunction with the CTE week celebrations. WA-ACTE members, teachers, administrators and students learn about legislative issues facing CTE in Washington and prepare for visits with state legislators. Participants are provided with handouts, talking points, and fact sheets to use for their prearranged appointments with their legislators. Participants later provide WA-ACTE with feedback from their meetings.
WA-ACTE believes in involving and promoting student leadership organizations during the Legislative Policy Seminar. This is a great strategy for getting students involved in the legislative process and legislators always want to hear from students. During our evening reception, student leadership organizations introduce their invited legislators and accompany them on a tour of our live skills demonstrations. The demonstrations provide an opportunity for legislators to see our students in action. The event is catered by the culinary arts program. Legislators enjoy the event and keep coming back annually.

For more information, contact Kathleen Lopp, WA-ACTE executive director, at