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ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

President Promotes CTE in State of the Union Address

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February 13, 2013

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President Promotes CTE in State of the Union Address

In the first State of the Union address of his second term in office, President Obama put forward a sweeping policy agenda that touched on many issues of national importance, including immigration, economic recovery, gun control and CTE. Throughout the hour-long speech, the president frequently returned to the themes of supporting the expansion of the middle class and reviving economic growth. As part of his proposal to meet these goals, he argued for greater career preparation and skills training for high school students with an emphasis on integrating secondary and postsecondary education. “Let’s make sure that a high school diploma puts our kids on a path to a good job” said Obama. “Right now, countries like Germany focus on graduating their high school students with the equivalent of a technical degree from one of our community colleges.”

The president specifically cited Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-Tech), a public CTE high school in Brooklyn that is a partnership between New York Public Schools, City University of New York and IBM.  P-Tech offers a six-year program that culminates in an associate degree tailored for students interested in a career in the technology industry. The president announced a proposal to incentivize and expand programs like P-Tech nationally. “I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. And we’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering and math,” said Obama.

In the Republican response to the president’s address, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) also spoke about the importance of CTE and its role in building the middle class and improving the economy. He called for a proposal to incentivize school districts to offer more CTE programs and pushed for greater financial aid for non-traditional postsecondary CTE students.  “Today’s students aren’t only 18 year olds.  They’re returning veterans. They’re single parents who decide to get the education they need to earn a decent wage. And they’re workers who have lost jobs that are never coming back and need to be retrained” said Rubio. “We need student aid that does not discriminate against programs that non-traditional students rely on – like online courses, or degree programs that give you credit for work experience.”

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