[r76] Sending our students out with the best foot forward (9/5/2014)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Start Date: 9/5/2014 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 9/5/2014
As colleges and universities throughout the country begin their year, many students are beginning to feel the weight of paying for their education. Some high school graduates have opted to all-together forgo the cost of a four year college and follow the pathway toward technical certification or attend community college to obtain an Associate’s Degree.  There are many STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) that offer high salaries – for the right graduate.  

I authored legislation this past session that requires the Indiana Career Council to assess Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in high schools and universities with a focus on high demand, high wage careers. They will also review the high school diploma requirements in regard to CTE. 

Finding qualified workers to fill manufacturing jobs in our state is a real dilemma. We are always working to attract business to move to Indiana, and we need qualified workers to help keep Indiana thriving. As the Director of the Early College Program for the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, a 20 year veteran in education and the State Representative for House District 76, I see first-hand every day the need for more flexibility in our CTE programs. 

According to the American Student Assistance website, nearly 20 million Americans attend college each year and out of those students, 60 percent borrow to cover their school costs. In the first quarter of 2012 the average student loan balance for all age groups was $24,301. According to the statistics, of the 48 percent of borrowers who are delinquent on their accounts contribute to their delinquency to the fact that they are under-employed or unemployed. These statistics are deterring some recent high school graduates from taking on that kind of financial responsibility.

Over these last few weeks I have toured Indiana, meeting with local educators, business executives, work force development leaders and economic development officials. The overwhelming message that came from my regional meetings was the need to have more flexibility in the Core 40, and more local control for school districts to meet the ever growing demands of employers around the state. Having students learning math and science in the context best suited for the growing businesses will improve scores, graduation rates and grow Indiana's workforce. 

The time has come to evaluate the current system and allow the flexibility to adequately address the needs of students, schools and employers looking to fill highly-skilled jobs.  My goal as an educator and a state legislator is to invest in our future and provide our state and our students with the tools necessary to get the most out of college and career.  

For more information about this and other bills, please visit https://iga.in.gov. 

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Rep. McNamara (R-Mount Vernon) represents portions of Posey and Vanderburgh counties.

[r76] Sending our students out with the best foot forward.docx