Gov. Steve Beshear on Wednesday signed House Bill 207 that unites the state’s two Career and Technical Education (CTE) systems under the guidance of Kentucky’s Department of Education. The goal is to create a unified, more relevant and efficient system to educate and prepare students for the world of work in a real-life setting, according to a news release from the governor's office.
“Our students need an education system that provides job-training and learning opportunities that will prepare them with the skills today’s businesses require,” said Beshear. “Recognizing the valuable role that CTE plays is an essential part of building a viable, competitive workforce.”
The legislation, which codifies an executive order signed by Beshear in August 2012, is part of a larger effort to prepare students for a wider range of career options through high-quality CTE programs. There is a statewide movement to make these programs more accessible earlier, more academically rigorous and better aligned with postsecondary requirements and employer needs.
For example, the Kentucky Board of Education has adopted a college and career readiness measure that includes an academic component and a technical skill component. The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) offers dual credit opportunities so that high school students can earn college credit. Kentucky provides funds from the Carl D. Perkins CTE Basic Grant to encourage secondary and postsecondary institutions to develop innovative career pathways.
“Career and technical education directly connects learning and jobs for our students and provides them with engaging real-world opportunities so that they can transition to higher education or employment with ease,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “This move is a key strategy in our efforts to ensure college and career readiness for all students.”
The legislation also establishes a CTE Advisory Committee that will provide guidance in the design and implementation of programs that give all students the best possible opportunity for career preparation in a unified system.
“House Bill 207 places career and technical education in the Kentucky Department of Education where it will receive the emphasis it should,” said Rep. Wilson Stone, of Scottsville, who sponsored the bill. “No function of our public schools is more important than seeing that our young people are being prepared for successful careers as they grow into productive adults.”
“Providing our students with quality access to career and technical school education effectively combines our state’s teaching efforts with job creation,” said Sen. Mike Wilson, of Bowling Green. “I am hopeful that the overhaul of our career and technical education system, initiated through the Governor’s Executive Order last year and implemented through HB207’s passage, will provide enhanced opportunity for our students to continue their higher education at in-state colleges and universities, and will further our mission to improve Kentucky’s economic growth.”
“Higher education has been and continues to be a cornerstone in developing our economy and improving our workforce,” said Rep. Jim DeCesare, of Bowling Green. “Bowling Green has reaped the benefits of having outstanding colleges and universities like Western Kentucky University, and Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College. It is my hope the reorganization of our community and technical community college system will spur continuing efforts to increase the number of Kentuckians with college degrees, and lead to more growth in our business community.”
“This legislation is a logical step forward for career and technical education, and it will better ensure that our students have what they need to succeed,” said Rep. Jody Richards, of Bowling Green. “It’s easily one of the most important education laws we passed this legislative session.”
The signing ceremony was held at Western Kentucky University’s Small Business Accelerator in the Center for Research and Development. The Small Business Accelerator provides clients with business support services and community resources to help them survive and grow during the start-up period. It is currently home to 17 technology-based businesses.