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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 14, 2012

SCHUMER LAUNCHES INITIATIVE TO CONNECT THOUSANDS OF UPSTATE NYERS WITH TODAY’S LOCAL JOBS -- URGES NYS BOARD OF REGENTS TO SWIFTLY APPROVE TWO NEW HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMAS BASED ON MATH & SCIENCE, CAREER SKILLS



To Prepare NY’s Students, Young Adults For Work In Local Manufacturing, High-Tech Industries, Schumer Calls On NYS Board of Regents To Approve Two Alternative, High-Tech & Career- Oriented Diplomas



New Diplomas Would Increase HS Graduation Rates, Match Middle-Class NYers With Work In Emerging Industries Like Advanced Manufacturing in WNY, Nanotechnology In The Capital Region, and Biosciences In The Hudson Valley

Schumer: NYers Must Have Tools & Options to Keep Pace With Today’s Jobs

 

Today U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer launched his push to help connect thousands of Upstate New Yorkers with today’s locally-available jobs, through an initiative to create two new, alternative pathways to high school graduation in New York State. Specifically, Schumer is urging the New York State Board of Regents to approve a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) diploma and pathway to high school graduation to produce more highly-skilled workers for New York’s high-tech industries; and a Career and Technical Education (CTE) diploma and pathway to high school graduation, focused on skills needed to attain regional manufacturing jobs, such as: precision machining, welding, optics and imaging to name a few. Schumer’s effort aims to help ensure that New Yorkers are both career- and college-ready, and to close the gap between skilled workers and available positions in a variety of industries, including high-tech manufacturing, nanotechnology, biosciences and more. Schumer will also urge the Board of Regents to work with education organizations and experts interested in providing contributions and suggestions to the Regents, like NYSTEEA, that have studied how to best incorporate and design these pathways in New York’s education system.  

“As Upstate New York’s economy switches gears towards the advanced industries of the 21st century, we need our students and education system to keep pace,” said Senator Schumer. “It is critical that young adults across the state are college- and career-ready to meet the demands and job availability of today’s industries, and that is why I’m urging the New York State Board of Regents to swiftly approve and implement two alternative pathways to high school graduation, which include new diplomas focused on career and technical skills and the science, technology and mathematics, STEM, fields. Rapid growth in New York’s specialized manufacturing, biotechnology and nanotech sectors should go hand-in hand with an uptick in local job creation, but a shortage of qualified local workers means that’s not always the case. This plan will increase high school graduation rates, and help provide more tools and flexibility for students in their pursuit of good-paying jobs, and I will do everything I can to help New York students prepare for the future.”


During the call, Schumer revealed a county-by-county report of high school dropout and graduation rates throughout the state, and unemployment rates among young adults, to highlight the urgent need for alternative pathways to graduation. This will incentivize students to prepare for jobs immediately available after high school, and those that await them after college. Currently, New York State Department of Education’s (NYSED) Office of Assessment Policy, Development, and Administration (APDA) administer the New York State Testing Program. At the commencement level, APDA develops the following Regents exams for high school students: 3 Mathematics, 1 English Language Arts, 2 Social Studies, and 4 Science. The plan that Schumer supports would ultimately create three possible pathways to graduation in New York State: the Traditional Pathway, the CTE Pathway, and the STEM Pathway. Schumer is lending his support and resources to the Board, providing a voice to the issue, and urging that the pathways be approved as quickly as possible. Senator Schumer highlighted that New York should lead the country on education issues, and sought to draw attention to the work being done in New York to address the skills gap and graduation rates.

                                                                                                                                                               

The STEM pathway would add a 2nd math or science assessment and the CTE pathway would include: 1 ELA, 1 Math, 1 Science, U.S. History and Government, and 1 CTE assessment that meets the college and career ready level of rigor. The CTE pathway incorporates career-focused education classes and curriculum into school programs, that could replace an elective or a core class, depending on the CTE approved substitution.  

 

Schumer highlighted several potential CTE approved substitutions for Upstate New York students to learn the skills of today’s available positions. Upstate New Yorkers might obtain a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Certification, a Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification, or a National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) Job Ready Assessment. For example, students interested in pursuing a career in computer systems and networking might pursue the CCENT under the CTE pathwayCTE approved computer systems and networking programs, such as at Tompkins Seneca-Tioga BOCES, may take Cisco Career Certification Exam in CCENT as the technical assessment for their program. The online CCENT exam consists of objective questions and simulations and satisfies the written and student performance of technical skills requirements for a technical assessment. Successful completion of the CCENT exam certifies the student as an entry-level networking technician. This is the first level of CISCO certification and leads to eight different career pathways, such as network design and network security, and to 4 additional levels of certification.  Networking students at Tompkins Seneca-Tioga BOCES complete a project developed with input from local business partners as the “student project” part of their technical assessment.

 

Schumer is also urging the Board of Regents to work with experts in the field of developing new Career and College ready curriculum standards in New York State, as it looks to develop and incorporate these new alternative pathways into the education system. There are a number of organizations, like the New York State Technology and Engineering Educators Association (NYSTEEA) and the New York State STEM Education Collaborative, that have dedicated themselves to the advancement of both Career and Technology as well as STEM education areas. Schumer highlighted that they have documented and studied ideas of how to best incorporate these new pathways to graduation with a well-rounded education for our students. Schumer noted, as an example, that NYSTEEA believes that the STEM pathway should focus on the integration of all four instructional disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math. This would ensure that today’s students truly understand a STEM education and have the skills necessary to be successful in any STEM related field they choose. New York’s Career and Technical Education Centers also have particular expertise and interest in the development of the Career and Technical Education diploma and should be utilized in this process.

The ongoing process to implement these new pathways and diplomas will be addressed at upcoming Board of Regents meetings where the CTE and STEM Advisory Panels will discuss the necessary and proposed regulatory language to support a CTE instructional continuum. The Board of Regents will then have to vote on regulation changes pertaining to assessments. If the process is successful, the new pathways will apply to the entering student cohort of September 2013.

Schumer has met with business leaders across the state that vocalized problems related to the gap between available positions in their companies and the skilled applicants in the local workforce. For example, Industrial Support Incorporated (ISI) is a Buffalo metal fabrication, stamping, and welding company that has been growing at between 20%-30% per year, but often has trouble filling job openings for machinists and welders. Thermold Corp is a company categorized under Plastic Mold Manufacturers out of Canastota, that currently employs about 100, and has a dramatic need for technical staff, like mold technicians, toolmakers, mechanical and electrical engineers. 


In the Rochester-Finger Lakes region, Optimation employs about 300 workers at its Rochester, NY headquarters where it provides automation, prototyping, engineering, and construction services to industrial clients.  Due to a recent acquisition it expects to add over a hundred more workers over the next three years and will be looking to find local workers with the math and technical skills needed to succeed on the job. In the Capital Region high-tech manufacturing and nanotechnology are growing rapidly. According to the New York Department of Labor, the Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing industry is expected to see jobs grow by 135% between 2008 and 2018. During that time period, there will be an additional 100 jobs per year created in network systems and data communications analysis, and about 80 jobs per year in computer programming.

A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter appears below:

 

Dr. John B. King, Jr.                                                               Merryl H. Tisch

Commissioner of Education                                                   Chancellor, Board of Regents

New York State Education Department                                New York State Education Department       

89 Washington Avenue                                                          Board of Regents, Room 110 EB
Albany, New York 12234                                                      89 Washington Avenue

Albany, New York 12234

 

Dear Commissioner King and Regent Tisch:

 

I would like to express my support for the New York State Education Department Board of Regents’ decision to create new pathways to high school graduation for our students. These new potential options will allow our students to choose from two new pathways to high school graduation: a Career and Technical Education or a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) pathway.

           

            In our changing economic times, we need to better equip our students with every resource and opportunity to attend college and become ready for the workforce. It is a smart and well-studied decision to create more choices in our K-12 education system. Within your Proposal to Create Multiple Pathways to a NYS High School Diploma, you cite the need for the development of meaningful alternative graduation pathways in order to account for the diversity of options that today’s students are presented with. Many of our employers in New York are looking for employees but are having difficulties finding workers with the necessary skills to work in their emerging fields. One such instance was documented in a June 2011 study prepared by Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) on behalf of the Rochester Tooling and Machining Association (RTMA).  This study found that there is a strong demand for skilled manufacturing personnel in Upstate New York and yet many of these manufacturing positions, particularly throughout the tooling and machining trades, cannot be filled.  The study reported that the 36 participating Rochester - Finger Lakes advanced manufacturers have 143 skilled manufacturing jobs open that range from mold and die makers to injection molding operators, optics technicians, and quality control inspectors. I firmly believe that new pathways to successful high school graduation are essential for our students and for U.S. competitiveness.

 

            As the New York State Education Department continues to modernize our education system and move towards full implementation of College and Career Readiness standards and curriculum, these new diploma options will be a substantiation of these efforts. I also request that you work with organizations in New York State that have been dedicating themselves to the advancement of both Career and Technology as well as STEM education areas. They have documented and studied ideas of how to best incorporate these new pathways to graduation with a well-rounded education for our students.

 

            Thank you for all that you do to educate New York’s over 7 million students. I am happy to work with you or your staff on any federal issue to advance this new endeavor. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

 

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

 

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