House OKs Shanley bill to make career and tech education available to students in and out of districts

 

STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today approved legislation introduced by Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick) that would ensure that all students who wish to pursue career and technical education have access to high quality programs both within and outside of their community of residence.

The bill (2021-H 5836A) would provide that the Career and Technical Education Board of Trustees would annually review and provide recommendations to the Board of Education on a range of issues, including program quality, the alignment of education programs to the program industry, and graduation requirements.

“Career and technical education is an important ingredient in any effective educational system,” said Representative Shanley. “A workforce rigorously trained in these disciplines is also the best way to draw business to the state and expand the business that already exists here. We just want to make certain that the available resources are being utilized in the best possible way, and that funding is equitable for all school districts involved.”

The act also includes a process and criteria whereby the Board of Trustees would evaluate programs to determine which are substantially similar to each other. Students could access a state board-approved program anywhere outside of their school district if their home district does not provide a substantially similar state-approved program.

 “Under this legislation the Department of Education would publish an annual list of substantially similar programs for the upcoming school year,” said Representative Shanley. “Students and their families will be able to use this list as a tool in determining what programs are available, where they’re available and how to access them. It is absolutely imperative that more students enroll in career and technical programs to meet the needs of Rhode Island’s growing economy. To that end, we need to support those families in making informed choices.”

Students interested in career and technical education programs would enroll in one of the regional career and technical centers, unless the program is offered in their district of residence. If not, then students would attend the program closest to their resident district, at the expense of the resident district.

In determining whether two programs are substantially similar, the Board of Trustees would consider the program type, information on the occupation that the student will be prepared for, the credentials the student will earn, the type of work-based learning that the student will be provided access to, and the ability to access advanced course experiences.

The act also provides for a sharing of transportation costs between sending and receiving districts when a student attends a program outside of the student’s transportation region.

The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2021-S 0212) has been introduced by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick).

 

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