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Morning Sun
  • Kan. Commissioner of Education visits Pittsburg to view technology facilities

  • Kansas Commissioner of Education Diane DeBacker visited Pittsburg Friday to get a look at facilities that are the leading edge of technology education in the state.

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  • Kansas Commissioner of Education Diane DeBacker visited Pittsburg Friday to get a look at facilities that are the leading edge of technology education in the state.
    DeBacker toured Pittsburg State University’s Kansas Technology Center early Friday morning before visiting Pittsburg High School’s Center of Applied Learning. Later, DeBacker visited with PSU faculty and students about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education back at the Kansas Technology Center.
    DeBacker said she decided to visit to get a better understanding of Gov. Brownback’s career and technical education initiative, in which he has placed increasing emphasis on high school students pursuing trades and technology careers. DeBacker said she had not been to Pittsburg, but that she knew a great many teachers are products of PSU and the KTC.
    “PSU has always been on the leading edge when you look at the industrial arts,” DeBacker said. “It’s a little jewel tucked away here in southeast Kansas.”
    DeBacker said she was encouraged by her visit to the PHS Center of Applied Learning.
    “I told the students I hope to see them in the classroom, because you see they were excited,” DeBacker said. “It’s very important for them to get excited. Fifty percent of (technology) teachers can retire in five years, and it’s important to get interest in the profession. I’m impressed with the high school program, and it’s going to help fill that void.”
    DeBacker said she expects to see a change in the mindset about four-year colleges over the next five years if the governor’s initiative plays out as he hopes.
    “It’s showing students that there are many, many options for them,” DeBacker said.
    Mike Neden, a professor in the department of technology and engineering education, said he appreciated DeBacker’s visit and support of his program.
    “We have a strong heritage at PSU,” Neden said. “We’ve had a strong influence here and continue to do so.”
    Neden said many technology students go straight into industry, and that there is a need for more technology teachers.
    “Once we get the students here and they see the opportunities that are available, it’s an easy sell,” Neden said. “It’s important that the state understands the profession and where we’re going.”
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