Career and technical education is attracting a lot of attention from Florida lawmakers this year, and an effort to expand it in the upcoming session appears to have bipartisan support.
CTE is the centerpiece of proposed legislation that builds on the state’s Career and Professional Education Act, which created industry-certification programs at the high school level.
Senate Bill 1076, filed last week by Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz, would add more partnerships with business and community leaders to develop similar initiatives in middle and elementary schools. It also would elevate industry certifications to a level that can satisfy certain high school requirements.
Senate President Don Gaetz, a Republican from Destin, told redefinED this week that passage of the legislation would result in historic changes that, ultimately, would make education in the Sunshine State more relevant. He said lawmakers should be able to back it no matter their party affiliations.
“All of us … want our graduates to walk across the stage and get a degree in their hands that results in a job,’’ Gaetz said. “It’s a sea change in educational delivery.”
Sen. Bill Montford, a ranking Democrat from Tallahassee, said he endorses the bill and the sentiment behind it.
“We need a different pathway for a lot of our students,” said the former Leon County schools superintendent, who heads the state superintendents association. “This is not a dumbing down of our curriculum. It’s not a retreat. This is what is best for our children in these schools.’’
Freshman lawmaker Shevrin Jones agreed. The Democratic representative from West Park has co-sponsored a bill that calls for more focus on career education.
“Not everyone is going to college,’’ said the former high school educator, who taught Advanced Placement Biology until his election to the House last year. “What this will do is allow us to make sure that our students are prepared to go into the workforce.’’
But expanding career education doesn’t shut the door on a college degree, Montford said. “Most college students work,” he said. “This is a good fit.’’
Legg’s bill is at the forefront of this overhaul, serving as the cornerstone of another bill the lawmaker filed last month that ties education to economic development.
The so-call STEM zone bill would create hubs that invite colleges and universities – as well as K-12 district schools, private schools and charters – to help develop a pipeline of highly-skilled workers for careers in science, technology, engineering and math fields.
Florida industry leaders like what they’re hearing.
“It’s very difficult to connect skilled workers to jobs,’’ Ron Avery, chairman of the St. Augustine-based Ronco Group, which includes industrial, engineering and manufacturing businesses, told lawmakers at a committee hearing last month. “There are 4,000 manufacturing jobs open in Florida. We need to figure out today how to fill these.’’ Continue Reading →