Optimism in 2016(!)

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Both candidates for Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction were well-meaning people with good qualifications. However, the winner, Chris Reykdal, brings a resume that is exceptionally well-aligned with the challenges and opportunities that abound in the highly worrisome content area of career learning.

Many assume – wrongly – that career learning is a relic of the past and “shop class” is dead. It’s a field so troubled in some ways, it even has a hard time naming itself. “Career and Technical Education” is the current term of art for classes most of us remember as “vocational.”

The reality of career learning is often far better than the misconceptions. In fact, many high school teachers across the state provide good instructional programs and some are truly outstanding, as you can see by visiting the website for the Core Plus initiative at www.core-plus.org.

But, even promising programs struggle to overcome barriers that are beyond the reach of teachers.

Public awareness of the programs is low, counseling and other support resources are slim to non-existent, school district accountants shudder at the cost of instructional equipment, and coordination is not what it should be between the K-12 system for kids and other post-secondary options for adults.

Shroud these challenges in the rhetorical fog created by the “college for all” mantra of the past 40 years, and it can all add up to gales of agonizing over what to do about this key aspect of public education.

Enter Superintendent-elect Reykdal.

Like most of us, Reykdal sees the value of career education. Unlike most of us, he brings a combination of professional experiences that should equip him to help bring about needed reforms, including civic service as a Washington State Legislator, and years of professional experience working as a staff member to the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges. On top of that, his wife is a highly regarded high school career counselor, he has kids in the public school system, and his family has roots in a variety of industrial career sectors.

Reykdal is the featured guest at a lunch program Tuesday, December 6, in the Gene Colin Hall at the Georgetown Campus of South Seattle College. Other guests will include outgoing state school superintendent Randy Dorn, the retiring director of the state community college board, Marty Brown, and Seattle Port Commissioner Stephanie Bowman. The lunch program is scheduled for 11:30 to 1:30 p.m.

The lunch program will include a presentation of a proposed marketing campaign for high school career learning put together by the Bonneville Seattle Media Group, owners of KIRO Radio AM/FM and the regional affiliate of ESPN, with broadcast rights for the Seattle Seahawks and Mariners.

The lunch program will be preceded by a curriculum workshop from 10:30-11:30 that will provide an overview of the Core Plus curriculum, and a terrific new initiative for a high school apprenticeship program in Tacoma put together by AJAC – the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee.

AJAC helped originate the Core Plus curriculum five years ago. The curriculum was refined and published this year through a $750,000 contribution by The Boeing Company. The curriculum covers more than 1,000 hours of instruction time in material science; applied math; technical reading and writing skills; tool, equipment and IT use; shop safety, personal responsibility and other behavioral skills required for industrial work places and life in general. The curriculum was developed with input from dozens of Washington state industrial companies. The curriculum was also vetted for career relevance by subject matter experts for the Washington Army National Guard and the American Society for Metals (ASM).

Admission is free for all events, but please RSVP for lunch to tory@seattleindustry.org

Both events are in Colin Hall in Building C at the Georgetown campus just north of Boeing Field. Enter the parking lot at 6737 Corson Avenue South.

Cosponsors include the Manufacturing Industrial Council of Seattle, the Port of Seattle, the Northwest Marine Trade Association, the Education Foundation of Associated General Contractors of Washington, Coca-Cola, the AWB Institute of the Association of Washington Business, and Local 751 of the IAM.


Questions? Call the MIC at 206-762-2470.