A sweeping reform package Assembly Democrats Speaker Vincent Prieto, Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., Joseph Lagana, Mila Jasey and Angelica Jimenez sponsored to improve and expand New Jersey’s vocational school programs was released Thursday by an Assembly committee.
Prieto had said when he became Assembly Speaker in January that improving vocational education would be one of his top priorities, citing it as key to making sure all New Jersey students are ready for work in today’s ever-changing economy.
“While many focus on college without thinking about a technical career, we have to make it clear that there are also many well-paying careers that can be launched with an industry credential or an associate's degree," said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). "As we work to make sure our economy begins to grow again, employers will look to our county vocational-technical schools to meet this need. We need to make sure our students are ready to go.”
“Vocational training can lead to apprenticeships and job opportunities in the trades for our youth who otherwise may be unemployed and adding to the state poverty problem,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Improving vocational education for our next generation is just common sense in today’s economy.”
The bills released by the Assembly Education Committee:
A3334 (Prieto/Lagana) - Require New Jersey school report cards to include indicators of student career readiness;
A3335 (Prieto/Diegnan) - Require preparation programs for teachers and school counselors to include coursework to support improved student career readiness;
A3337 (Prieto/Jimenez) - Establishes four-year county vocational school district facilities partnership grant program;
A3338 (Prieto/Diegnan) - Requires all school districts and public colleges to enter into dual enrollment agreements to provide college-level instruction to high school students through courses offered on the college or high school campus;
A3339 (Prieto/Diegnan) - Provides that if a career and technical education program of a vocational school district is taught in an industry setting, the off-site location will be exempt from certain state regulations;
A3340 (Prieto/Jasey) - Provides additional state aid to county vocational school districts in which enrollment increases by more than 10 percent; and
A3341 (Prieto/Diegnan) - Provides state aid for adult education programs.
“We need to make sure our vocational programs are up-to-date as we position New Jersey for a better future,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This is all about jobs and a stronger economy. We need to take steps such as these to ensure our state is at the cutting edge of educational offerings as our economy changes in the years ahead.”
“We cannot rest idle while businesses and jobs change and the global economy becomes even more and more competitive,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “Our students need an array of options to meet their various interests and the needs of today’s economy. These bills steer us in the right direction.”
“We need to make sure our students are ready to compete in today’s marketplace,” said Jimenez (D-Hudson/Bergen). “Quite simply, this is about ensuring everyone receives an education that fits their needs and ensures they’re ready to compete and thrive in our ever-changing economy. Vocational education is vital to our future.”
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