Thursday, October 22, 2009

Letter to President Obama

Gemini School is involved in several local and state education intiatives that support career focused education. After all, our motto is "We Turn Talent into a Profession". Our friend, supporter and colleague-Jim Brazell-will be reading the following letter to President Obama tomorrow. If you'd like to support Art and Career Education, pass it along!

President Barack Obama and President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Executive Office of the President
725 17th Street
Room 5228
Washington, DC 20502

October 20, 2009

RE: PCAST STEM Meeting 10.22-23, 2009, Two Minute Public Comment Letter

Dear Mr. President and distinguished members of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, On October 16, 2009, Jim Brazell was in the Denver airport where he purchased the latest Business Week. The title read "The Lost Generation: The job crisis is hitting young people especially hard--imperiling their future and the economy-by Peter Coy." As he put the magazine on the counter to pay for it, the young male cashier said, "That's the truth." After a brief conversation with him, Jim mentioned career and technical education and the cashier responded, "I wish I had done that." To which Jim replied, "It's not too late, community and technical colleges and universities both have programs aligned to good jobs in tough times-and the future."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds is the highest among US age groups. Unemployment among this cohort has steadily increased from 2007 to the present. Thus, the United States is in need of strategies to increase US economic cooperation, competitiveness and innovation in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We are also in need of STEM-based strategies to transform the whole of the P-20 education system and outcomes for the youth and young adults who will create the future.

Today, a well rounded high school student is ready for life, career and the rigor of the P-20 system of education. The irony of our time in history is that TECH PREP and Career Pathways, modern vocational education, provide this well rounded student and simultaneously increases K-12 performance, retention, recruiting, graduation, and matriculation to deliver a P-20 educational pipeline. TECH PREP is the modern equivalent of academic preparation (AP) plus it has the added bonuses of expanding equity for diverse student populations and closing the gaps among K-12, community and technical college, and university pathways.

Similar to President Obama, after the launch of Sputnik, President Eisenhower, in the late 1950's, faced rising global tensions, a critical time window and very low tolerance for failure. Eisenhower discovered the M.I.T. Physical Sciences Study Committee (PSSC) who had created and proven new curricula for science and physics on a small scale. The PSSC curricula allowed the U.S. to disseminate and scale up education reform-answering the call for innovation while managing risk for failure through cooperation of the nation's K-12, community and technical college and university system. We submit to you today that TECH PREP in its founding origin--full college-bound academic load, plus Career and Technical Education courses, plus college courses-is the P-12 modern equivalent of PSSC and a demonstrated solution to your STEM goals and to global educational transformation. TECH PREP is supported by, but differentiated from, the modern career pathways movement and the traditions of career and technical education (CTE) as the AP equivalent. TECH PREP students attend school, graduate, and matriculate to college and university across the nation at higher rates than general academic or general CTE students-and they pass the standardized tests! In April, when President Obama appointed PSSC members he said, "At root, science forces us to reckon with the truth as best as we can ascertain it." We know as academicians the idea of work-based training strikes you as less rigorous than academic preparation; however, we submit that emerging science says TECH PREP works and connecting hands and heads-mind and body-is the way ahead to the Next Great American Century.

With hope for the future,
Jim Brazell, Consultant, Innovation Creativity and Capital Institute (IC2), University of Texas and the Schriever Institute, San Antonio, Texas

With support, contributions and editing from: Dr. Francis X. Kane (USAF, Lt. Col. ret.), President, The Schriever Institute; Patricia G. (Pat) Bubb, Executive Director, Tech Prep of the Rio Grande Valley, Inc.; Dr. Debra Amidon, Senior Research Fellow, IC2 Institute & Founder Entovation, Ltd.; Dr. David Thornburg, Founder, Thornburg Center for Professional Development; and, Dr. Murat Tanik, Stan and Bonnie Gatchel and the Systems Design and Process Science (SDPS) community.

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