Seven bills to expand career and technical education opportunities for New Jersey students were approved today by the New Jersey Senate Education Committee.
The measures have already been approved by the New Jersey Assembly with strong bi-partisan support.
Dr. Howard Lerner, the president of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools (NJCCVTS) and the superintendent of Bergen County Technical Schools, thanked Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Senate Education Committee Chair Teresa Ruiz, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Assembly Education Committee Chair Patrick Diegnan and all the bill sponsors for establishing career and technical education as a priority in the 2104-2015 legislative session.
“For many years, it seemed like county vocational-technical schools were the best-kept secret in New Jersey,” Dr. Lerner said. “Our career programs were enabling all types of students to reach higher and achieve academic and technical skill success, but misperceptions about vocational education persisted.
“Over time, though, students, parents, colleges and employers have all started to take notice of the variety, quality and value of our career-focused high school programs. Their popularity has soared to the point at which we now receive, on a statewide average, 2.5 applications for every available seat, and are forced to turn away thousands of students who are seeking to get more out of high school and prepare themselves for careers and college,” Dr. Lerner said.
“It is exciting and extremely gratifying to have the business community and our state legislative leaders also recognizing this success, and moving forward to provide more opportunities for students and increase the focus on career readiness in New Jersey,” Dr. Lerner said.
NJCCVTS Executive Director Judy Savage said the bills approved today respond to many recommendations of the New Jersey Employer Coalition for Technical Education, created earlier this year under the leadership of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association with support from Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Prieto.
“The more than 180 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 by the Senate Education Committee today include:
• S2224/A3334, which requires the New Jersey School Report Card to include indicators of student career readiness. (Prime sponsors: Senator Ruiz, Senator Shirley Turner, Assembly Speaker Prieto, Assembly members Joseph Lagana, Angelica Jimenez, Shelia Oliver, Elena Pintor Marin and David Rible, plus 13 Assembly co-sponsors.)
• S2225/A3335, which requires teacher and school counselor preparation programs to include coursework to support improved student career readiness. (Prime sponsors: Senator Ruiz, Senator Turner, Speaker Prieto, Assembly Education Chairman Patrick Diegnan, Jr., Assembly members Lagana, Pamela Lampitt, Oliver, Carmelo Garcia and Rible, plus 13 Assembly co-sponsors.)
• S2226/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. (Prime Sponsors: Senate President Sweeney, Senator Ruiz, Senator Turner, Speaker Prieto, Assembly members Lagana, Celeste Riley, Oliver and Rible, plus 15 Assembly co-sponsors.)
• S2227/A3339, which clarifies that a career and technical education program taught in an industry setting is not subject to school facilities regulations. (Prime Sponsors: Senator Ruiz, Se President Sweeney, Senator Turner, Speaker Prieto, Assembly Education Chairman Diegnan, Assembly members Anthony Bucco, Timothy Eustace, Charles Mainor, Lagana, Oliver and Rible, plus 13 Assembly co-sponsors.)
• S2228/A3337, which establishes a four-year County Vocational School District Partnership Grant Program in DOE. (Prime Sponsors: Senator Ruiz, Senate President Sweeney, Senator Turner, Speaker Prieto, Assembly members Jiminez, Lampitt, Dan Benson, Ralph Caputo, Oliver and Rible, plus 10 Assembly co-sponsors.)
• S2229/A3340, which provides additional State aid to county vocational school districts in which enrollment increases by more than 10%. (Prime Sponsors: Senate President Ruiz, Senate President Sweeney, Senator Turner, Speaker Prieto, Assembly members Mila Jasey, Gordon Johnson, Marlene Caride, Rible and Gabriela Mosquera, plus nine Assembly co-sponsors.)
• S2230/A3341, which restores state aid for adult high school and adult vocational training programs. (Prime Sponsors: Senator Ruiz, Senate President Sweeney, Speaker Prieto, Assembly Education Chairman Diegnan, Assembly members Johnson, Bonnie Watson-Coleman, Angel Fuentes, Benson and Rible, plus Senate co-sponsors Christopher Bateman and Turner, and 12 Assembly co-sponsors.)
New Jersey’s 21 county vocational-technical school districts currently serve approximately 32,500 secondary students in full-time and part-time programs that prepare all types of students for college and careers.