Legislation to bolster the technical education available at Missouri high schools was signed into law Monday by Gov. Jay Nixon.
Under Senate Bill 620, sponsored by Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, the state will create a new technical education certificate that high school students can earn alongside their diploma.
The new law requires state education leaders to establish requirements students will have to meet to earn a technical education certificate. Under the law, local school districts have the freedom to make curriculum decisions, identify programs of study and choose specific course offerings.
Romine stressed that the bill was “one of the most important pieces of legislation” he had wanted to see passed during his time in Jefferson City and one he has tried to get passed for three years.
“Being a former vocational education teacher, I’ve seen the value and the power of kids being prepared to go into the workforce right out of high school, but doesn’t impede them,” he said. “This certificate will allow them to show qualifications for a particular vocation so that if they want to go on to a community college or a four-year institution, it complements their ability to do that.
“This is our third year going into it. We were very close to getting it passed last year and then we ran out of time in the Senate. It actually became the omnibus education bill. There was a lot of components to it, but it failed and then we came back this year and it was one of our pre-filed bills. We worked on it real quick to get it done early.”
The new law has received praise from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Its president and CEO, Dan Mehan, said, “Employers need students who are ready to go to work for companies providing good-paying, high-tech jobs. This new law helps educators enhance technical education to give students the skills they need to succeed in these fields while still in high school.
“By making our education system more efficient and responsive to job needs, Missouri will see significant savings. But most important, our students will be receiving an educational value they can put to work right away.”
Noting that the Missouri 2030 Gallup survey of 1,000 Missouri businesses found that only 15 percent of business leaders believe Missouri high school graduates are prepared for the workforce, Mehan said, “The legislation signed [Monday] could make a big difference in turning that statistic around.”
The bill was handled in the Missouri House by Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau.
“This new law helps educators enhance technical education to give students the skills they need to succeed in these fields while still in high school.” — Dan Mehan, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry president
Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or email@example.com