Several bills to help the state better promote skilled trades and give more students the ability to participate in career and technical education (CTE) programs have been approved by Gov. Snyder, or are close to completion .
Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) has supported the proposals based on the organization’s comprehensive, member-developed educational reforms and agriscience education policies.
“Increasing student accessibility to agriculture classes and exposure to related careers continues to be a top priority for our membership,” said MFB Legislative Counsel Rebecca Park. “Our farmer-members strongly believe that a well-rounded education, including vocational or technical courses, should be an attainable and achievable goal for all students. This package makes great strides in helping accomplish that.”
Arguably most notable, Senate Bill 175 extends the sunset on the foreign language flex credit within the Michigan Merit Curriculum until 2024 and was signed into law as Public Act 232 of 2018. A policy originally advocated for by MFB in 2014, the extension allows students to continue substituting a CTE course, such as agriscience, for one of the two required foreign language credits.
“Education is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and this reform will continue to offer options for students to choose robust courses of study that can best prepare them for success,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jim Stamas. “Michigan’s economy is growing and creating jobs, yet thousands of positions remain unfilled because employers cannot find enough skilled workers."
A new state Talent Investment Fund, part of Gov. Snyder’s so-called “Marshall Plan” is created under Senate Bills 941 and 942. The two-piece bill package was signed into law as Public Acts 227-228 of 2018.
“The legislation will increase access to academic and technical credentials or certifications, and improve educational opportunities and divvies out an unprecedented $100 million in grant programs that mostly involve skilled trades,” Park said. “We look forward to seeing what opportunities there are for agriculture, food and natural resources education programs to leverage.”
Last but not least, several bills supported by the Michigan Career Pathways Alliance, of which Farm Bureau is a member, made it through process:
MFB also supported amendments that are expected to help address teacher shortages in CTE programs. Both Senate Bills 909 and 910 passed the Senate in mid-June, but await action by the Senate Education Committee.
“These bills remove the requirement that CTE teachers must be certified, as long as the teacher already holds a professional license or certification for the subjects they will teach, or has a teaching certificate issued from another state,” Park said. “To ensure these individuals are adequately prepared, non-certified CTE teachers will also be required to complete a program to learn classroom management and engage in a mentorship experience.”