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  /  Blog   /  US Secretary DeVos’ statement to the International Congress on Vocational & Professional Training

US Secretary DeVos’ statement to the International Congress on Vocational & Professional Training

Department of Education Training


In today’s reality, anything you bring up or mention about any statement made by any politician or appointee seems to be spun back to some political stance by whoever is quoting said politician or appointee. I am not making a political statement. However, I am trying to spark a conversation about CTE and STEM education.

Regardless whether you are Red, Blue, Purple or Grey, I believe that when it comes to education, the mantra must be “do what is right.”

(I apologize for the above disclaimer… but I know as soon as this blog post hits I have some friends and colleagues who will be calling me – I intend to dodge their calls.)

Feel free to read the whole statement for yourself, but below is something that struck me as an excellent starter for a more significant conversation. https://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/prepared-remarks-secretary-devos-international-congress-vocational-professional-training

Nothing below speaks to the need to test our students to death. (Ok stepping off the soapbox now)

Excerpt from the Sec of Education’s statement at a conference in Switzerland.

And now more than ever, we need the unimaginable to become commonplace in education.

To do that, we must first acknowledge that every student is an individual. There is no one-size-fits-all approach that works for every student. And no individual student is “average.” Every student comes to learn with different experiences, different needs, different learning styles and different dreams. Their education then must be equally customized.

How we approach this must reflect the realities of today’s economy, with an eye toward tomorrow’s opportunities. We simply don’t know with a level of specificity what tomorrow’s economy will look like.

So students must be prepared to anticipate and adapt. They need to acquire and master broadly transferrable and versatile educational competencies like critical thinking. Collaboration. Communication. Creativity. Cultural intelligence.

These are essential — but often unacknowledged – skills for students to hone.

Students also need to be better prepared to pursue professions not yet imagined. Indeed, forecasting experts for Dell Computers recently estimated that “around 85 percent of the jobs that today’s learners will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet.” A dynamic educational posture recognizes that learning should really be lifelong and that nimbleness and continued personal growth are attributes to be embraced.

By the way,
I had a teacher friend call me yesterday to tell me about an interview they had at a high school. A teacher was retiring, and the school was looking to fill the position. My teacher friend was amazed that the program seemed to be from the 1980s.

When he described what the newly retired teacher had been teaching we both agreed the curriculum did not prepare the students for the realities of today’s economy and workplace. The teacher never had to change.

For years students were being prepared for earlier decades and not today. When my friend asked the administrators about it, they shrugged and said, “This is what our teacher wanted to teach, and she told us that it was up to date.”

As professional educators, it is our responsibility, and it is our sacred trust to know what our students need and to prepare them for their today and their tomorrow. In STEM and CTE, much of the technology we were taught to teach will go bad about as quickly as the head of lettuce you have stuck in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer.

As educators, we don’t get to ignore what is happening in the world. We must prepare our students for the world however it is changing.

Have fun – Steve