Stump tapped to join federal Department of Education | TheFencePost.com

Stump tapped to join federal Department of Education

Scott Stump has been confirmed by a unanimous vote as the assistant secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education. Stump, a former agriculture and science educator from Stoneham, Colo., is also the president of the local Prairie School District Board of Education, with enrollment of about 100 students.

Stump's confirmation comes on the heels of an email from the White House and an FBI visit to the Stoneham community, likely a first to the small Weld County community.

"The FBI did make it to the greater Stoneham community and asked individuals if I would be a worthy candidate and to my happiness, my neighbors said yes," Stump said in an interview with Barn Media's Brian Allmer.

Administration of federal grant programs are among Stumps' responsibilities in his new post. Grants include those like the one included in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that support adult education, literacy programs, and programs to support English acquisition.

"The other major part of our portfolio is career and technical education through the Perkins Act," he said.

The Perkins program provides $1.1 billion to the states to provide the capacity to deliver career and technical education, including agricultural education programs.

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"Two weeks ago, President Trump took the bill provided to him from Congress strengthening Career and Technical Education, the 21st Century Act, and signed it into law," Stump said. "We are hitting the ground running with a new piece of legislation to implement and so internally, we're gearing up to release the information the states need to start preparing their state plans and think boldly and innovatively about their next steps using Perkins dollars to change young peoples' lives."

Stump said he originally intended to enter an occupation outside education unlike his father, a 37-year classroom teacher, as well as his siblings. However, he said after spending a year as a state FFA officer in his home state of Indiana, his future in education was solidified.

After teaching, he spent a decade working for the National FFA Organization before making the move to Colorado and the Colorado Community College System. He directed the work of Colorado FFA and agriculture education while at the CCCS, ultimately serving as director of the Career and Technical Education.

"We're wanting to advance the work of career and technical education around the country at the K-12 level, the community college level, within adult education, and ultimately, within our correctional systems, making sure no matter who the learner is, the right skills needed to succeed in today's workplace," he said.

The first federal investment in career and technical education was ushered in in 1917 with the Smith Hughes Act that put in place funding for teachers and programs as the secondary education system was emerging and growing. Stump said support for career and technical education has gone through changes and different seasons of support over the years. His main reason in accepting the role to work alongside Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss is timing.

"Businesses need employees," he said. "There are over 6 million jobs that are unfilled because people don't have the skills that are needed so businesses are not achieving their full capacity because they lack the human resource. That's a problem that we can meet the need and fill the skills gap."

Stump said elevating the conversation about Career and Technical Education is timely in the wake of the "college for all" conversation prevalent for the past several decades. Making students and parents both aware of the programs available is a goal for Stump as learners are equipped with the skills necessary for careers.

"Let's help students at a younger age find their passions and give them meaningful experiences through high school and community colleges that allow them to say yes to a career path as opposed to by default, falling into a degree program that may or may not meet their needs in the future," he said.

Stump will be joining his Department of Education colleagues in a tour of schools in the lower 48 states and will be thanking teachers and encouraging them to rethink education and not be bound by the systems but to look at learning through the eyes of the learner. ❖

— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at rgabel@thefencepost.com or (970) 392-4410.