[76] A great future starts with a great education (2/3/2014)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Start Date: 2/3/2014 Start Time: 6:00 PM
Every year, during the legislative session many different topics are discussed and debated. Since I was elected, one issue that has been especially important to me is education. Having been in the educational field for twenty years, I have been able to work one-on-one with students, teachers, parents and legislators to discover different ways we can innovate Indiana’s educational system. Currently two of my bills, House Bills (HB) 1064 and 1213, deal with career and technical education on an in depth level.

This past summer, I was able to meet with industries that currently have jobs available, but are struggling to fill their positions because there is a shortage of available, skilled workers. Babcock & Wilcox, located in Mount Vernon, has experienced difficulty finding skilled technical workers needed for the tri-state area. More than 90 percent of the facility’s 155 jobs are highly skilled technical positions. There are currently 10 positions open with at least five machinist positions that have remained unfilled for more than a year.  Its skills such as problem solving, communication, technical reading and applied mathematics and sciences that aren’t being taught in schools, and therefore, people are lacking afterwards. To address the skills gap here in our state, we must address it where it starts, the classroom. Through House bills 1064 and 1213, we will narrow in on these issues in an attempt to prepare students to be successful upon graduation in the private sector.

My first bill, HB 1064, calls for the Indiana Career Council (ICC) to study and review CTE programs to better understand their effectiveness and efficiency in school systems. CTE programs are essential in growing industries such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

I am excited for this bill because it will lead to better outcomes in employment alongside an increase of the utilization of resources in schools. Focusing on ways we can innovate education to make them more compatible and relevant to what Indiana needs now, we can directly address workforce development. This bill recently passed unanimously in the House and is heading to the Senate for further consideration.

HB 1213 relates to the development of a Career and Technical Education Diploma. Currently, there is a one-size–fits-all approach with the Core 40 diploma.  Students have options with the Academic Honors diploma and Technical Honors Diploma, but those options simply can’t get at the grit of the skills gap problem. As the Director of Early College High School, I am constantly aware of graduation requirements, and due to the lack of diversification of the Core 40, it is difficult to address the skill sets needed to fill jobs that give students the opportunity to be engaged, lifelong learners in their career and life.

HB 1213 will call for the ICC to create a subcommittee consisting of members of each council, representatives of CTE programs, the Department of Education, and members from colleges around the state. This subcommittee will help create requirements for the CTE diploma alongside curricula that would better represent this diploma and prepare students for the workforce. With courses involving math and sciences directly related to the skills needed for the career students choose, this diploma will offer students an open door to enter into industry more quickly. HB 1213 was passed through second reading this past week. 

As the 2014 legislative session nears the halfway mark, I am eager to see these bills advance and look forward to their positive effect they will have on Indiana.

McNamara_Memo_A great future starts with a great education.docx