Seven bills in Speaker Vincent Prieto’s legislative package to expand career and technical education were approved today by the New Jersey General Assembly with strong bi-partisan support.
The measures now head to the state Senate, where they will be merged with companion bills introduced earlier this month by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Senate Education Committee Chair M. Teresa Ruiz.
“This is a great day for county vocational-technical schools and for career and technical education in New Jersey,” said Dr. Howard Lerner, the Superintendent of Bergen County Technical Schools and the President of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools (NJCCVTS).
“Thanks to the vision and leadership of Speaker Prieto, Assembly Education Chair Patrick Diegnan and all the sponsors, these bills will help to address the workforce needs of employers by increasing the state’s focus on career readiness, expanding career and technical education programs, and providing multiple pathways for students to achieve career success,” Dr. Lerner said.
NJCCVTS Executive Director Judy Savage said the bills approved today respond to many recommendations of the NJ Employer Coalition for Technical Education, launched earlier this year under the leadership of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.
“The more than 175 members of this coalition – representing New Jersey businesses of all types and sizes, labor organizations, trade associations and policy makers – stepped forward to say that technical education is essential in order to prepare a career-ready workforce,” Savage said. “We appreciate the strong support of New Jersey’s business community and look forward to engaging more employers with our county vocational-technical schools.”
The bills approved today include:
• A3334, which requires the New Jersey School Report Card to include indicators of student career readiness. Approved 78-0. Prime Sponsors: Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Assembly members Joseph Lagana, Angelica Jimenez, Shelia Oliver, Elena Pintor Marin and David Rible.
• A3335, which requires teacher and school counselor preparation programs to include coursework to support improved student career readiness. Approved 78-0. Prime Sponsors: Assembly Speaker Prieto, Assembly Education Chairman Patrick Diegnan, Jr., Assembly members Joseph Lagana, Pamela Lampitt, Shelia Oliver, Carmelo Garcia and David Rible.
• A3337, which establishes a four-year County Vocational School District Partnership Grant Program in DOE. Approved 77-0 (two abstentions). Prime Sponsors: Assembly Speaker Prieto, Assembly members Angelica Jiminez, Pamela Lampitt, Dan Benson, Ralph Caputo, Sheila Oliver and David Rible.
• A3338, which encourages dual enrollment agreements to provide college-level instruction to high school students through courses offered on the college or high school campus. Approved 79-0. Prime Sponsors: Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Assembly members Joseph Lagana, Celeste Riley, Sheila Oliver and David Rible.
• A3339, which clarifies that a career and technical education program taught in an industry setting is not subject to school facilities regulations. Approved 79-0. Prime Sponsors: Assembly Speaker Prieto, Assembly Education Chairman Patrick Diegnan, Jr., Assembly members Anthony Bucco, Timothy Eustace, Charles Mainor, Joseph Lagana, Shelia Oliver and David Rible.
• A3340, which provides additional State aid to county vocational school districts in which enrollment increases by more than 10%. Approved 64-14 (three abstentions). Prime Sponsors: Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Assembly members Mila Jasey, Gordon Johnson, Marlene Caride, David Rible and Gabriela Mosquera.
• A3341, which restores state aid for adult high school and adult vocational training programs. Approved 60-18 (one abstention.) Prime Sponsors: Assembly Speaker Prieto, Assembly Education Chairman Patrick Diegnan, Jr. and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson.
New Jersey’s 21 county vocational-technical school districts serve approximately 32,500 secondary students in full-time and part-time programs that prepare all types of students for college and careers.
“These schools, and the students who attend them, are successful because career and technical education integrates rigorous academic content with career focused learning, enabling students to apply their skills and knowledge in a meaningful way,” said Judy Savage.
She noted that county vocational-technical school programs are in high demand from employers who need a strong pipeline of highly skilled future workers, and from students and parents who recognize that work-based learning and industry credentials add value to the high school experience. On a statewide average, New Jersey’s county vocational-technical schools receive about 2.5 applications for each available seat.
“Our schools have been forced to turn away thousands of young people who want to pursue a career-focused program,” Savage said. “The Assembly members who developed and voted for these proposals and the NJ Employer Coalition who supported these efforts are committed to ensuring that doesn’t happen in the future.”