Recently, Steve Rothenberg, NHCTA/NH-CTE President, joined a diverse group of leaders from across the nation in California to discuss ways to better advance the skilled trades in the automotive, construction, manufacturing, welding and HVAC sectors.
The trip was sponsored by Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, whose guiding principle is grounded in a deep respect for the skilled trades and desire to create real opportunity for kids who love to build, fix and create. Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is a philanthropic programs of The Smidt Foundation, founded by Eric Smidt, owner of Harbor Freight Tools.
“Harbor Freight Tools for Schools brought us in to advise them on their funding priorities,” said Rothenberg.
Noting there were some “highlight influential people” in attendance, including several state commissioners of education, United Way worldwide executives, LA public transportation system architects, CTE professionals and others, Rothenberg expressed enthusiasm for their collective recommendations.
“The group felt that a pipeline for skilled trade teachers and overcoming the ‘stigma’ of the trades are the two top issues for the foundation to address moving forward,” he said. “It was a very well organized event, and I was pleased to be able to represent the interests of NH and CTE.”
In addition to receiving recommendations from the group regarding funding priorities, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools sought advice on the merits behind getting involved in policy work at the federal, state, local and/or grassroots levels.
According to Rothenberg, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools has already become deeply involved in CTE, as he noted their first foray in this arena was last year.
“They awarded $500,000 worth of prize money to ten top CTE trade teachers in 2017,” he said. “Teachers actually received $10 to $30K directly, while their programs got the rest. This year, the total was raised to $1 million…The application process has some interesting reflective elements that I think could be used for professional development.”
In reflecting on his experience at the national conference, Rothenberg said he cannot help but look ahead at other issues that could be pursued by NH-CTE. These issues, he said, cover broad areas, some of which include:
- Overcome some age limits for trade-based pre-apprenticeships.
- Connect employment security, postsecondary and secondary databases to test the impact of interventions/learning, such as CTE completion.
- Establish career-related competencies for school counselors.
- Establish career credential recognition model for high school graduates.
- Create CTE teacher-leader pipelines to enhance succession planning.
- Refine and further establish ESSA career-related metrics.
- Establish statewide WBL models.
- Advocate for years of service credit for industry experience on the teacher scale for new CTE teachers.
“There is a lot for us to think about in NH and nationwide when it comes to CTE,” he added. “The conference got me thinking about an even bigger picture and the possibilities that could exist through Harbor Freight Tools for Schools.”
To learn more about Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, visit https://harborfreighttoolsforschools.org.
With the majority of STEM jobs in computing and a projected job growth of 13% compared with 6.5% growth across all occupations, the need for computer science education has never been greater.
It is this need that in part led Creative Computing Challenge (CCC), a five-year program funded by the National Science Foundation, to establish CS4NH. A working group of business/industry, non-profits, and K-12/higher education members collaborating to bring computer science to all New Hampshire K-12 students, CS4NH is working to increase access to and participation in Computer Science educational opportunities.
CS4NH’s Terry Wolf, a NH state legislative representative and vice chair of the House Education Committee, cited “a huge shift” in the public’s understanding of the need for computer science education.
“Not too long ago, people thought Computer Science only needed to be offered at the high school level as an elective,” she explained. “Today, people want kids to be more than consumers of technology. They want them to be the creators, innovators and problem solvers.”
She said this shift in understanding, furthered by advocacy efforts by CS4NH, led to the passage of NH House Bill 1674 earlier this year, which made Computer Science as a core K-12 subject area.
“After listening to a wide variety of stakeholders, adding Computer Science to the definition of an adequate education matched what people are looking for,” she said. “The bill passed with wide bipartisan support in the legislature.”
CS4NH’s Beth Doiron, Director of College Access and DOE programs and initiatives at the community college system of NH, said skills learned in computer science courses help students build basic problem-solving skills.
“Computer science instruction helps students understand how to accomplish tasks more efficiently and help them be better prepared for college in general, regardless of their career or program major choice,” she said.
CS4NH has forged several strategic partnerships, including one with the New Hampshire Tech Alliance, which Executive Director Matt Cookson said makes sense for them in several ways.
“CS4NH goals align perfectly with the goals of our Workforce Development committee and mission of the organization,” he said. “Being able to house the efforts of CS4NH and support its growth and implementation was a logical step as we look to encourage more young people to learn about Computer Science in New Hampshire.”
Judith Burrows, Director of Student Aid at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, another CS4NH collaborator, said her biggest takeaway from computer science is the thought processes such a curriculum seeks to encourage.
“Computational thinking is much more than just programming or IT,” she said. “It is foundational for all businesses. It really is the currency that businesses are looking for regardless of the field.”
Citing computational thinking as “the backbone” of various forms of technology, Lori Langlois, Director, North Country Education Services, said Computer Science addresses current and future needs.
“Given the known workforce shortages in NH in computer programming, web development, and other skilled computing fields, CS4NH has an important role in advocating to increase access and participation in CS to foster these career paths for students,” she said.
Langlois said CS4NH is particularly important in her region.
“For the North Country, computer science holds the potential for developing an
innovation economy,” she said. “In order to attract new or expanding businesses, northern NH schools are focusing on computer science with the intention of making visible, the young, energetic, and talented individuals we are developing for a STEM-skilled employee pipeline.”
To learn more about CS4NH, or any related initiative, visit cs4nh.org.
This is the final story of a multi-part series on CCC and the relevance of computational thinking in the classroom and industry in NH.