[76] New education bill will address skills gap (1/3/2014)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Start Date: 1/3/2014 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 1/3/2014
The 2014 legislative session began this week. I am looking forward to having productive discussions on how we can improve our state and create a better living environment for all who call Indiana home. In an effort to continue this process, last week I announced a bill that I will be introducing this session.  The bill calls for the creation of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Diploma. Students have the options of the Academic Honors Diploma and the Technical Honors Diploma, but those options don’t get at the heart of the skills gap problem.  In order to address the skills gap we have to address it where it starts.  The current system doesn’t do that.

Currently, there is a one-size-fits-all approach to graduating high school students with Core 40. Core 40 is designed to produce the same learning skills in all students.  The lack of diversification that currently exists doesn’t allow students to develop the skills necessary for industry and technical education.  For example, the same sets of skills apply from English 9 – English 12. However, manufacturers need workers skilled in Technical Writing, Technical Reading and Technical Communication. 

Students simply are not given the opportunity under the Core 40 to develop and strengthen those skills.  The same is true for math skills acquired in Algebra I, Algebra II or Geometry.  One can argue that you need Technical Math and/or Technical Problem Solving courses to be successful in the industrial environment. 
This bill will also call upon the Indiana Career Council to appoint a subcommittee that includes members of each council, representatives of career and technical education programs, the Department of Education and community colleges to develop the requirements for the diploma.

The subcommittee will be able to obtain input in developing the diploma requirements from licensed mathematics and English language arts educators. The subcommittee will be authorized to design new curricula or create new courses in developing the diploma. A requirement of at least 40 academic credits, or the equivalent workload, will be designed so that completed courses may be used to fulfill the requirements established for other high school diplomas approved by the State Board of Education. The bill will entreat the Indiana Career Council and the State Board of Education to approve the new requirements and courses before they are offered.  

This bill will benefit students, industry and the economy. Students can now have the option to choose a diploma that is in interest to his/her chosen field and will be able to graduated high school with useable skills that companies need. The Diploma will help students build their skills in English, math and science- all within the context of a career that interests them.  More education and training leads to higher earnings and great job satisfaction and makes Indiana a more desirable place to come do business because of the options. With less time spent on remediation and ore time spent on training skills people will be able to work sooner. 

This bill will be one of many I work on this session. If you have any questions or issues that you think need to be addressed in the General Assembly please contact me via email at h76@in.gov or by phone at (317) 232-9671. I hope you had a wonderful New Year and are looking forward to all that 2014 has to offer. 

McNamara_Memo_New education bill will address the skills gap.docx