Douglas teacher attends education seminar in Washington, D.C. |

Douglas teacher attends education seminar in Washington, D.C.

Staff Reports

Douglas High School agriculture teacher Jared Hyatt attended the 2007 Association for Career and Technical Education National Policy Seminar on March 5-7 in Washington, D.C.

Hyatt joined educators from across the country to voice support of career and technical education. While there, Hyatt visited members of Congress on Capitol Hill, learned about current initiatives related to agricultural education and career and technical education, and attended issues briefings.

The National Association of Agricultural Educators hosted breakout sessions during the conference to give agricultural educators the opportunity to learn more about legislation focused specifically on agricultural education.

One key message was the need to push for increased funding for programs authorized under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. Although the Bush Administration has recommended Perkins programs be funded for fiscal year 2008 at $600 million, that amount is still a 50 percent decrease from the current funding level. To effectively meet the needs of career and technical education, of which agricultural education is a part, it is estimated that funding needs to be at least $1.67 billion.

Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education’s Vocational and Adult Education Dr. Troy Justesen spoke about the need for hard data to back up requests for increased funding. Justesen said without numbers, it would be difficult for educators to convince Congress to increase Perkins funding. He challenged attendees to collect data proving career and technical education effectively lowers the dropout rate of high school students.

Education Coordinator with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Dr. MeeCee Baker talked with members about making the most of visits and other communications with legislators. She encouraged attendees to go into their visits well informed, and to remain accessible to legislators even after visits were completed.

Also during the breakout sessions, Executive Director William Jay Jackman and National FFA Senior Division Director for Partner Development Kent Schescke reviewed key messages for agricultural education advocates to carry to their elected officials. Schescke gave an overview of the 2007 Farm Bill proposal and outlined how agricultural education initiatives might be fit into this piece of legislation.

The mission of National Association of Agriculture Educators is professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy and service. The organization has more than 8,000 members nationwide.