Developing education ecosystems to help secure cyberspace

Developing education ecosystems to help secure cyberspace

CTE CyberNet and the Middle Grades CTE Accelerator are part of America’s larger efforts to strengthen our cyber workforce.

October is the 20th anniversary of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a collaborative effort between government and industry to enhance cybersecurity awareness, and Cybersecurity Career Week begins on Monday, October 16. Over the past two decades, the federal government has recognized that “people are a crucial element of cyberspace and a strong workforce is key to securing cyberspace.”

To develop and maintain a strong cybersecurity workforce, we need an equally strong cyber teaching workforce. Through teacher professional development programs such as CTE CyberNet and the Middle Grades CTE Accelerator, Luminary Labs has helped communities across the country implement localized approaches to expanding and supporting cyber education ecosystems. Our input helped inform the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy; released earlier this year, the White House strategy details how our nation will “strengthen our cyber workforce, connect people to well-paying, quality jobs, and advance the welfare, prosperity, and security of our society.”

Cybersecurity work is vital to U.S. security and prosperity, yet hundreds of thousands of cybersecurity jobs remain unfilled. Addressing the cyber talent gap will require identifying and developing pathways from America’s middle and high schools to postsecondary education and careers.

Advancing cybersecurity education

The U.S. Department of Education is collaborating with other federal agencies to increase the number of career and technical education (CTE) teachers who can effectively prepare students for cybersecurity education and careers.

CTE CyberNet

CTE CyberNet, designed and managed by Luminary Labs, is a professional development initiative to strengthen cybersecurity education in America’s high schools. A local academy approach helps teachers deliver more rigorous CTE cybersecurity programs of study aligned to industry standards and industry-valued certifications. CTE CyberNet academies are designed to also align with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Cybersecurity Workforce Framework and the knowledge units of Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (CAEs). During the 2020-21 academic year, an inaugural cohort of three academies provided teachers in Chicago, San Antonio, and South Dakota with strategies and tools for delivering more rigorous, standards-aligned cybersecurity education. In 2022-23, the CTE CyberNet expansion accelerator added two additional academies in Miami and New Mexico. Earlier this year, CTE CyberNet hosted a panel discussion at SXSW EDU. And this summer, the White House included CTE CyberNet in its National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy, naming the program as an example of a successful cyber education ecosystem model.

Middle Grades CTE Accelerator

Middle-grade CTE programming provides a unique opportunity to expose students to critical careers in cybersecurity and space science. The Middle Grades CTE Accelerator, also designed and managed by Luminary Labs, is an innovative professional development program for teachers, administrators, and counselors. This year, eight inaugural sites — six focused on cybersecurity and two focused on space — are delivering customized professional development to help local teachers integrate cybersecurity or space education into their CTE programming, based on local needs and existing educational ecosystems.

In December, the Luminary Labs team will be at the 2023 NICE K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference, leading a session on the Middle Grades CTE Accelerator. Hear from three of the cybersecurity site leads as they share their approaches, challenges, and tips for others who are looking to incorporate cybersecurity education into their CTE programs. Luminary Labs Engagement Manager Natalia Allen will join Gustavo Chaparro-Baquero (Florida International University), Donna Woods (Canyon Springs High School/Moreno Valley College), and Lindsay Porter (Mountain High School).