PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota’s director of career and technical education gathered ideas Tuesday from state Workforce Development Council members on what they want in the state’s new plan she’s writing.
Laura Scheibe hopes U.S. Department of Education officials will be as flexible when she submits it in April as they were on the state’s plan for meeting the federal Every Student Succeeds Act that replaced No Child Left Behind.
The council advises the state Department of Labor and Regulation, while state Division of Career and Technical Education is part of the state Department of Education.
Scheibe said she’ll have about $5 million available to spread between K-12 school districts and the technical institutes that serve students after high school. “So what do we want to incentivize?” she asked.
Chairman Lee Anderson of Mitchell turned the question around and asked whether she sees any gaps. Scheibe said K-12 schools’ offerings don’t always match what industries need.
On the plus side, she said school districts, especially with smaller enrollments, tend to work together on career and technical courses.
Scheibe said the new plan could have a model for school districts to consider.
Anderson also talked about merging the state Labor Market Information Center analysis of job vacancies with the career and tech plan.
Scott Peterson, a council member from Belle Fourche, said some employers could benefit from greater awareness about local schools’ programs.
“I don’t know the answer,” Peterson said. “Not that we’re doing bad. But do better.”
He suggested schools could engage more with various associations and groups for employers.
Scheibe said there is a wrong perception that career and tech courses in K-12 schools point students solely toward two-year tech degrees.
Peterson said students benefit from starting career and tech courses earlier in K-12 even if they discover they dislike what they thought they wanted to do. “It’s a win if they figure out it’s NOT their dream job,” he said.
Council member Carla Gatzke of Brookings suggested making it easier for more students to get more jobs while in high school. Gatzke also said teachers could benefit from work-experience credits.
Scheibe said the state department previously had an ‘externships’ program for K-12 teachers and it might be worth reviving.
Paul Beran, executive director for the state Board of Regents that governs South Dakota’s public universities, said some of his academic experience involved working with technical education in Texas.
Beran said South Dakota’s universities graduate many teachers but they frequently leave either the state or the profession because teacher pay is low in comparison to other states.
He suggested businesses hire teachers for summer projects that fit or expand their skills.
“It seems to me that would be a win-win,” Beran said. “It also helps them stay in South Dakota.”
Peterson asked whether high school students were encouraged to work in summer jobs in fields that interest them. Scheibe replied she didn’t think so.
Dawn Dovre, representing the state Department of Labor and Regulation, said the ‘Week of Work’ that Governor Kristi Noem outlined in her State of the State speech in January would be a step in building that link.
Dovre said the governor plans several events in September in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, with the actual week scheduled for April 20-24, 2020. It would involve some 11,000 high-school sophomores shadowing people in their jobs.
Several council members told Scheibe that their local school districts seemed to have good relationships with their local business communities. But some small districts seem to have repeated turnover, council member Dave Bonde of Fort Pierre said.
“You’re starting the motor every September,” Bonde said.