DHS teacher attends Washington policy briefing | RecordCourier.com

DHS teacher attends Washington policy briefing

Staff Reports

Jared Hyatt, Douglas High School agriculture teacher, attended the 2007 Association for Career and Technical Education National Policy Seminar held March 5-7 in Washington, D.C. Hyatt joined educators from across the country who had come together to voice their support of career and technical education. While attending the conference, Hyatt visited his 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 during both the main NPS and the NAAE breakout sessions was the continued 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 that Perkins programs be funded for FY 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.

Dr. Troy Justesen, assistant secretary for Vocational and Adult Education in the U.S. Department of Education, spoke to NPS attendees about the need for hard data to back up requests for increased funding. Without numbers, said Justesen, it would be difficult for educators to convince Congress to increase Perkins funding. He specifically challenged attendees to collect data that proves that career and technical education effectively lowers the dropout rate of high school students.

In a NAAE breakout session, Dr. MeeCee Baker, Education Coordinator with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, talked with members about making the most of visits and other communications with legislators. “Use your genuineness and authenticity to your advantage,” she said. She also encouraged attendees to go into their visits well informed, and to remain accessible to legislators even after visits were completed.

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

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The mission of NAAE is “professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy and service.” NAAE has more than 8,000 members nationwide.