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These comments are responses to the Civic Caucus interview with

Jessica Lipa, director of Anoka-Hennepin School District's career and technical education
February 27, 2015

Should Minnesota act now to reverse the decline of high school career/technical education? 

Overview

According to the Anoka-Hennepin School District's Jessica Lipa, Minnesota school districts must provide rigorous, relevant, hands-on career and technical education (CTE) to fulfill the needs of the state's workforce and address the skills gap in the state. She notes that manufacturing and technical careers are very prevalent in Anoka County and that the area is very supportive of technical education.

 

In contrast with the many school districts that have reduced or eliminated CTE courses in their high schools, Anoka-Hennepin has expanded its CTE offerings through its Secondary Technical Education Program (STEP). STEP is a partnership of the school district, Anoka County and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. STEP, which opened in 2002, is located in a high school for 11th and 12th graders built right onto Anoka Technical College. It offers advanced educational opportunities in career and technical education. Lipa says STEP works closely with business and industry to project out where the careers will be 10 years from now and to determine what kinds of courses and training the program should offer.

 

She says that a major problem for the program is getting potential STEP instructors, who all come from industry, licensed as teachers in Minnesota. She notes that after the University of Minnesota closes down its CTE teacher preparation program this spring, there will be no college in the state that prepares CTE teachers for licensing certification. She points out that the Minnesota Department of Education or the Legislature could change the licensing requirements.

 

For the complete interview summary see: Lipa interview

 

Response Summary: Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

 

To assist the Civic Caucus in planning upcoming interviews, readers rated these statements about the topic on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

  

1. Topic is of value. (9.4 average response) The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.

 

2. Further study warranted. (9.2 average response) It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.

 

Readers rated the following points discussed during the meeting on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

 

3. Make career/tech-ed available to all. (9.7 average response) Minnesota should commit to making career and technical education available for all high school students.

 

4. Base courses on workforce needs. (9.9 average response) School districts should offer career and technical courses based more upon what the workforce needs and less upon what teachers want to teach.

 

5. Connect high schools, community colleges. (10.0 average response) To improve students' career and technical education opportunities, individual high schools or groups of high schools should establish formal relationships with community and technical colleges.

 

6. Use Anoka-Hennepin as model. (8.9 average response) Anoka-Hennepin's special career and technical education high school, built as a wing of Anoka Technical College, should serve as a model for other school districts.

 

7. Expand career/tech teacher training. (9.7 average response) Minnesota's colleges and universities should expand--not reduce or eliminate--training for future career and technical education teachers.

 

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Topic is of value.

0%

0%

0%

33%

67%

9

2. Further study warranted.

0%

0%

0%

44%

56%

9

3. Make career/tech-ed available to all.

0%

0%

0%

11%

89%

9

4. Base courses on workforce needs.

0%

0%

0%

11%

89%

9

5. Connect high schools, community colleges.

0%

0%

0%

0%

100%

9

6. Use Anoka-Hennepin as model.

0%

0%

0%

56%

44%

9

7. Expand career/tech teacher training.

0%

0%

0%

11%

89%

9

 

Individual Responses:

Bert LeMunyon  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)

 

Dennis L. Carlson  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

 4. Base courses on workforce needs. This gets tough with union contracts and seniority - for both school districts and MNSCU.

 

6. Use Anoka-Hennepin as model. Many school districts, legislators (both State and Federal), business leaders, and employers have visited the STEP facility.  I would especially urge visitors to talk with the STEP and ATC students.

 

Scott Halstead  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

 3. Make career/tech-ed available to all. [Make it available to] all that desire technical education.  We need to strengthen career counseling that focuses on the student’s interest and capabilities.  We need to utilize technology to bring technical education to rural Minnesota.

 

6. Use Anoka-Hennepin as model. That works in the metro area and out state near technical schools.  Is there a base curriculum, which can be provided by an instructor in a rural school or utilizing audio/video or other technology?

 

7. Expand career/tech teacher training. Absolutely along with career counselors from the technical schools working with local school counselors.

 

Erick Ajax  (8)  (9)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (8)  (10)

 Excellent interview. Good follow up to Mike McGee a few weeks ago.

 

Chuck Lutz  (9)  (8)  (10)  (9)  (10)  (9)  (10)

 

Don Fraser  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

 Well done - keep going.

 

Tom Spitznagle  (10)  (8)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

 

Wayne Jennings  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (8)  (10)

 I visited the program several years ago and was as impressed as I am with this interview. It represents a good part of education’s future and is long overdue. “Going to college” for many people including educators has meant doing more academic coursework. That definition and mindset needs updating. High school needs more career prep programs and fewer standard curricula. Kids have energy and drive but not for more literature and history courses or quadratic equations though that’s suitable for some. Kids want to get on with their lives and not spend it sitting in school chairs.  Most troubling, we’ve known this for decades!

 

Bright Dornblaser  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (8)  (10)

 The legislature should make these changes possible despite the objections of the teachers’ union.

 

Peter Hennessey  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

 No, Minnesota should let things rot [until] every State ranks higher and all the great industries collapse.

Somebody please have the guts to bring back vocational education to the high schools -- wood shop, metal shop, auto shop, welding, carpentry, masonry, plumbing, electrical and other construction, all the business and commercial office courses, home economics, as well as the more technical skills such as computers, networks, graphics, web design, web page management, etc. High school age kids are not stupid; they are bored. Not all of them are destined for academic careers. Let them learn something useful and they will feel useful, be useful.
 

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Interview Group  includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
Dan Loritz (Chair), Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman

 

 

 


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The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.  civiccaucus@comcast.net
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.
 

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