Mike Rowe: Our Nation’s CTE Advocate and Hero

Tana Black 2017-03-24



Mike Rowe won our heart years ago with his dry sense of humor, his long suffering willingness to get a bit messy, and his dedication to the unsung heroes of skilled labor in the U.S. on the Discovery Channel’s show, “Dirty Jobs.” But have you been keeping up with his latest project? Advocating for Career and Technical Education is his true passion, and that’s what he’s taken all the way to Washington (again)…

Read what The 74 Million reports:

“Washington, D.C. – Maybe the third time will be the charm for Dirty Jobs TV host Mike Rowe.

The career education advocate and TV personality Tuesday made his third appearance at a congressional hearing since 2011, joining a House Education and Workforce subcommittee to discuss strengthening career and technical education as Congress prepares to consider a new bill on the issue.

Rowe’s message, as it was in past appearances before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in 2011 and the House Natural Resources Committee in 2014, was simple: Career and technical education, and skilled trade professions, need a PR makeover.

“If you want to make America great again, you’ve got to make work cool again,” he said.

Before he broke through as the host of Dirty Jobs, which highlighted hazardous, arduous, and often disgusting jobs, Rowe was an opera singer as well as a TV host and narrator and salesman for the QVC home shopping network. He has since focused national activism around trades, and he launched the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which provides scholarships to study skilled trades.

The House late last year passed bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Act, the primary federal initiative in career and technical training, giving about $1.1 billion annually to colleges and secondary schools. The bipartisan bill would have required states to better align career training programs with workforce needs, while cutting down on required paperwork and limiting federal impositions in the area.

It passed the House 405–5 but was not considered in the Senate. It was reportedly scuttled there over feuds with the Obama education department over implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Rep. Glenn Thompson, a Republican from Pennsylvania who was one of the sponsors of last year’s bill, said Tuesday that he would be reintroducing the legislation shortly.

Subcommittee chairman and Indiana Republican Todd Rokita said he is “very optimistic” about the chances of getting the bill signed into law but cognizant of the hard work ahead in persuading more students to consider career and technical education.

Rowe wasn’t the biggest name testifying at the Capitol Tuesday — Michael Phelps, the winningest Olympian ever, appeared before the Energy and Commerce Committee to discuss anti-doping measures in sports.

The increasing push to get nearly all students to graduate from a four-year college, even if doing so isn’t the best path for their needs and abilities, has come with “unintended consequences,” Rowe said.  

Parents and guidance counselors dissuade students from taking career and technical education classes, which are being dropped from many high schools. A career in a trade is seen as “some kind of vocational consolation prize,” creating a skills gap that leaves millions of jobs unfilled because workers aren’t trained to do them, he said.”  Read more…