February was Career and Technical Education month. It was a time when attention was drawn to
advocating for career and technical education, a time when we celebrated the successes of our students and promoted the strength of our program. It was a time when advocacy materials are readily available on the CTE Month page and when career and technical student organizations go to their state capitals or local governments and get declarations or proclamations signed to recognize the importance of career and technical education in today’s society.
Earlier this month was the National Policy Seminar in Washington, DC, where state leaders in CTE gather from across the country to hear from influential leaders, learn the latest information about Perkins funding and legislation impacting CTE, and get trained in advocating for career and technical education. The 2015 NPS experience included visits to representatives on the hill and meetings scheduled to share key speaking points about the critical role of CTE in developing America’s workforce.
What happens after the celebration is over? What happens when Career and Technical Education month is no longer on the forefront of our minds? What happens when we return home from National Policy Seminar with the resources and information we have gained? How do we continue to use the tools that we’ve been presented and the advocacy skills we demonstrated during this time of celebration?
I’m guilty of not practicing the same advocacy in March or April that I do in February during CTE month when I schedule my HootSuite account to send daily tweets about the impact and benefit of career and technical education. I could easily carry out scheduling a once a week tweet about the impact of CTE throughout the rest of the year. ACTE makes it easy to have resources to use for this purpose through their Get Social with ACTE page.
I take action when ACTE sends an Action Alert on a policy issue that has become intense. The trigger is there to jump into contact mode, reaching out to my legislators through email, twitter and Facebook. Yet, I confess that with the plethora of resources ACTE provides to help us advocate, I don’t make a regular effort to consistently advocate and build relationships with legislators. I lack a regular emphasis on sharing the successes of my students and the value of career and technical education when times are good and there’s not necessarily a policy crisis.
I share my foibles in consistent advocacy because I challenge you to think about what actions you take after the celebration of CTE month and NPS are over. How do you continue to spread the message about CTE? If you are like me, what steps are you going to take to establish a more consistent advocacy plan after the celebration is over?