April 20, 2012 (Ankeny, Iowa) - U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan presented President Barack Obama’s blueprint for Career and Technical Education (CTE) reform during his visit to Des Moines Area Community College-Ankeny Campus (DMACC) on Thursday, April 19.
On hand to welcome Secretary Duncan and Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, were DMACC President Rob Denson, Ankeny Community School District (ACSD) Superintendent Dr. Matthew Wendt, Ankeny High School (AHS) Principal Brenda Colby, Accumold Vice President of Production Grace Swanson, and several AHS students.
"Secretary Duncan’s visit brings attention to an important part of K-12 education, technical education,” said Dr. Wendt. “This is an opportunity to hear the nation’s top educator talk about the importance of career and technical education. There are highly-skilled, high-paying jobs that need workers, and getting certifications or training in these fields is critical.”
AHS Principal Colby agreed. “We are extremely pleased and honored that Secretary Duncan chose DMACC to hold his Town Hall meeting. Ankeny High School, in partnership with DMACC, contributes to opportunities for our students to access a number of programs that lead to a career pathway.”
During the 2010-2011 school year, Ankeny High School students earned more than 13,000 college credits taking shared programming and career academy programming courses, most of them without ever having to leave the AHS campus. AHS students have earned 77,766 DMACC credits since 2000-2001 through the partnership.
"Our school has enjoyed the relationship we have with DMACC,” Principal Colby added.
DMACC has campuses in Ankeny, Boone, Carroll, Newton, Des Moines and West Des Moines and offers more than 130 career and technical programs and certifications.
"The State of Iowa is a jobs magnate,” Denson said prior to introducing Secretary Duncan. “There are lots of great jobs waiting for qualified employees.”
According to Secretary Duncan, the strength of the American economy is directly linked to the strength of America’s education system, particularly in times of economic challenge. He outlined four core principles for the transformation of CTE:
“We have a skills crisis,” Secretary Duncan explained. “There are 2,000,000 high-skilled jobs that we can’t fill, and Iowa and DMACC are helping lead the way in providing CTE. We would like every person to have at least one year of college or training.”
Currently, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 is a principle source of federal funding for secondary and postsecondary career and technical education programs. However, the Obama administration has proposed reforms to the Perkins Act, including $1 billion to help 500,000 high school students participate in career academies.
“All high school students should have access to high-quality CTE programs,” said Dr. Dann-Messier.
Mutually beneficial partnerships, such as the one between DMACC and Accumold, a micro mold and manufacturing company, are encouraged. Accumold has hired 22 students that went through the school’s tool and dye program while working at the company part-time.
Swanson, a former DMACC employee, emphasized that career and technical education is central to rebuilding America’s economy. “Partnering with DMACC was a critical business decision,” Swanson shared.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan talks during a town hall meeting April 19 at DMACC.
Ankeny High School Principal Brenda Colby answers a question during the town hall meeting. Also pictured are Grace Swanson, vice president of Accumold, center, and Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education.
Secretary Duncan speaks with Marshall Hay, a student at Iowa State University majoring in agronomy.
Secretary Duncan and Dr. Dann-Messier show off the medallions DMACC President Rob Denson presented to them to commemorate their visit. The medallions were made by DMACC's tool and dye students.