MDE listening session heads to Columbus

Staff Writer

As part of efforts to hear input on career-technical education in Mississippi, the Mississippi Department of Education has embarked on a tour of listening sessions across the state.

A session will be held in Columbus on Monday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Lowndes County Career and Technology Center at 1085 Lehmberg Rd. The Mississippi Succeeds Career and Technical Listening Tour has made stops across the state since December, and gives stakeholders an opportunity to offer input on career technical education in the state with the reauthorization of the federal Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, known in Mississippi as the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act or Perkins V. The sessions are held by MDE with assistance form the Mississippi State University Research and Curriculum Unit.

“The Department of Education has been on a listening tour around the state since early December to hear information that school personnel, whether it be administrators or teachers or counselors,anyone dealing in school, as well as parents and workforce and industry, about what career and technical education may look like in the future,” said RCU Director Betsey Smith.

Both the federal and state level acts aim to increase access to high-level CTE programs. The federal law, which goes into effect on July 1, is expected to give more autonomy and flexibility to CTE programs. It is also expected to help students advance through a CTE curriculum.

“We’re trying to bring awareness, and also give a voice to those in the field that may not be involved in the actual writing or development of a state plan, that this is a way to reach all stakeholders across the state of Mississippi,” Smith said. “The department of education is using this approach, because it’s what they did with the elementary and secondary ed act for information and feedback from stakeholders.”

Smith said community colleges across the state were also involved, receiving a considerable portion of the funds from the Perkins Act along with secondary school programs.

Some of the tenets of the new law include collaboration among state and local schools and industry partners, introducing a needs assessment to align programs to local needs, strengthening
CTE teacher and faculty pipelines, expanding the reach and scope of programs, shifting responsibility to states and promoting innovative CTE practices.

“The RCU has been working with the department of education for over 15 years in career and technical education, and we provide the state department with curriculum assessment and professional learning opportunities for career and technical education,” Smith said. “We are a resource for them to set up these listening tours and be available at the listening tours, and gathering the feedback, and helping to go through the data given through the stakeholders.”

In addition to Columbus, sessions have been held in Hattiesburg, Biloxi, Tupelo, Hernando, Pearl and Greenwood. The final session will take place in McComb three days after the Columbus session.