Legislation is a key facet in strengthening CTE and the role it has in the future of Education. Keeping open lines of communication with our state and federal legislators and sharing our experiences and successes within CTE is a great way to help keep support coming for pro CTE legislation in the future. One of the important ways we do this is through the National Policy Seminar, an annual event held in Washington, D.C., where delegations of CTE teachers and administrators learn about the legislative process and are able to voice their concerns for CTE at a national level.
We hope you are inspired as we are by the letters below detailing the thoughts and experiences of a few of the ACTEAZ Fellows that attended this year’s NPS. We’d also like to remind you that if you are interested in advocating for CTE then sign up with ACTEAZ’s Advocacy Contact Form.
Arizona Delegation meeting with Congressman Salmon
This is my first time to the NPS, I can tell you that this experience was priceless. Sunday started with a Leadership Training Program, this was an interactive session where we could discuss our information with other states. I learned how to organize and run an effective voluntary board, then we had a speaker who was motivational on how to be a great leader.
The first timer’s orientation was informative on how we should interact with our legislators and how to make the most out of all of our sessions. Speakers were extremely informative on how the “hill” works and how things get done. This information was invaluable to a newcomer.
When we visited my Congressman Matt Salmon, he was excited about CTE, listened to our concerns, signed up for the CTE Caucus and even accepted a visit to our local high school program. I was excited for this positive visit. The second meeting was with the Assistant of Jeff Flake, she was also receptive of our concerns, took lots of notes and will pass the information to Senator Flake.
All in all the five days were interesting and I feel that we can make a positive impact by working with our legislators and also the information we glean from our fellow CTE programs all over the country is immeasurable.
“Sometimes all you have to do is just ask.
This was my third time attending the National Policy Seminar. My first two times at NPS, I was attending on behalf of the Arizona Agriculture Teachers Association. This time, however, I was attending as a sophomore ACTE AZ Fellows. This new hat that I was wearing gave me the opportunity to look at the bigger picture and how we need to work together to fight for all of CTE.
My planning for NPS began with my first “ask.” A few months back, I was talking to my schools assistant principal in charge of CTE, Michelle Good, about the conference. Through our conversation, I thought it would be great for my school if we could get more representation, so I asked Mrs. Good if she would like to attend too. Fortunately, she said yes.
Fast forward to our hill visits and the second “ask.” One of the priorities this year with the visits to our legislatures was to inform them about the CTE Caucus and encourage more to sign it. As we started our visits, AZ only had one member that had signed the caucus, so this was a very important task. While a group of us were visiting with Congressman Matt Salmon, our Representative from the 5th district of Arizona, the CTE Caucus was presented and we asked if he would be willing to sign it. We received a very energized yes.
The third ask happened within the same meeting. As we were leaving Congressman Salmon’s office, Mrs. Good ask him if he would come visit our school. He not only said yes but he introduced her to his personal scheduler so we could get it on his calendar.
By far, this was the most rewarding NPS I have had the privilege of participating in. And I would not have had the opportunity to attend this year if I hadn’t just asked to be supported and join the ACTEAZ Fellows program.”
I have been to many conferences over the years and have listened to many inspiring keynote speakers and attended many sessions that are meant to motivate or validate me. This year at NPS was no different. Our mornings were filled with fantastic, yet overwhelming information and our afternoons were spent on the Hill speaking with our elected officials. Many will think that my inspiring and motivating moment came from being at the Capitol or getting my chance to speak with someone important; that is not the case for me this year. My moment came from listening.
One of our last sessions consisted of a round table format with different topics. Being a school counselor, I immediately took my place at the “Guidance and Career Counseling” table. There were a few others varying from teachers to CTE Directors to ACTE board members at the table as well. I couldn’t help but notice I was the only school counselor at the table. This one observation was the beginning of my moment. I sat and listened to what the teachers were saying about the school counselors in their schools. It was horrible. I couldn’t believe the role I value so much was being devalued during the discussion. To be fair to the teachers, the counselors they were describing did sound horrible: Counselors who didn’t value or understand CTE. Counselors who think CTE is for “those kids.” Counselors who think CTE students aren’t college bound. I felt so sad for them. I felt sad for their students. Listening to the teachers talk about their counselors was my moment. It made me realize I need to do something to start to change the way counselors view and discuss CTE.
It took a few days after the conference for me to begin to develop a plan of how I would go about doing this. Part of the Fellows Program is to find out ways in which we can be leaders and advocates for CTE at the local, state, and national level. There is a great opportunity this summer to start bridging the gap between school counselors and CTE. My moment, my realization, needed a plan. I tossed around a couple of ideas and decided on this simple plan: I will e mail CTE Directors across the county and invite them to come to the ASCA conference this summer. Some of them also need education on the role of a school counselor and how they can get their school counselors to help them. I think this could start a great dialogue back in their home states and districts about counselors being educated in CTE if they are not already. Depending on the feedback I get, I am thinking of hosting a mixer where we meet and talk about strategies to educate school counselors about CTE. I would also like to encourage them to bring school counselors to the next Vision conference. Counselors also need some professional development regarding the benefits of CTE. What better exposure than the National ACTE conference?
This past NPS conference created a moment for me that is now morphing into my advocacy plan.