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Over the past two years, a big change has occurred in high schools across the state of Kansas. More and more students are getting a head start on their future careers and their postsecondary studies — by enrolling in and completing courses in career and technical education, or CTE. The rates of growth in the state are striking.

Many policymakers and education officials are watching closely as Tennessee rolls out an ambitious plan to provide free postsecondary tuition to the state's high school graduates.  As part of Gov. Bill Haslam's "Drive to 55" initiative, the newly signed Tennessee Promise bill will provide two years of community college or a college of applied technology at no cost to students.  The overall goal is to increase the number of Tennesseans earning a degree or certificate to 55 percent from the current rate of 32 percent.

The U.S. Department of Labor is using $100 million dollars of current funds to increase the use of apprenticeships in the workforce.  As part of President Obama's charge to Vice President Biden to build a stronger middle class, these competitive grants will allow state partnerships to develop and increase the use of internships that lead to employment.

On April 16, 2014, President Obama asked Vice President Biden to take the lead on investments necessary to assist individuals get trained with the skills needed to land a job. Following training the initiative strives to help hard-working Americans get placed in a good, middle class job.  The first effort offers competitive grants to partnerships of community colleges, employers and industry so they can create job-driven training programs.

With help from a $25 million U.S. Department of Labor grant the Montana University System will overhaul the state's community colleges and increase the speed at which skilled workers enter the workforce.  The goal of the grant is to fill job shortages in a number of emerging manufacturing fields and change how students earn a training certificate.  

Nearly 4 million youth are unemployed in the U.S. while as many as 600,000 manufacturing jobs currently remain vacant.   Business and industry are frustrated at not finding skilled workers to fill these jobs so these positions sit waiting to be filled.  This gap can be closed if educational institutions work closely with business to prepare students for the ever-changing market where skills depreciate quickly and credentials beyond a high school diploma are necessary.  When institutions and business work together both employees and companies benefit from the outcome.  

Historically, community colleges have served as an entry point to higher education for many students, particularly nontraditional older students as well as those from low-income households. Community colleges provide general education courses that often, but not always, are transferable to public four-year colleges and universities. For students who persist, the outcome at community colleges has traditionally been a two-year associate degree. Over the past 20 years, however, the line in the sand separating two- and four-year postsecondary institutions has begun to erode. Twenty states have begun meeting the demand for more bachelor’s degrees by giving community colleges an expanded role and allowing them to offer four-year degrees. 

On Monday, President Barack Obama officially unveiled his budget for 2013.  As he spoke from Northern Virginia Community College, Obama highlighted the more than $65 billion in education funding focused on resources dedicated to transforming K-12 and postsecondary education to ensure students have the skills and knowledge to succeed in the future.

Educators and policymakers realize that all of America’s students need a high-quality education to prepare them for college and careers. 2012 promises to be another busy year in  transformational strategies in education. In order to ensure a world-class education, leaders will likely address these top five issues facing states and territories (“the states”) this year.

Maryland became the 12th state in the country to allow illegal immigrants living within its borders to attend colleges and universities at in-state prices when Gov. Martin O’Malley signed Senate Bill 167 in early May.

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