Bill would increase access to career and technical education

AUGUSTA – The Legislature’s Education Committee will take up legislation today that would make it easier for high school students to take courses at Career and Technical Education schools, and to get credit for those courses from their own high schools and community colleges.

LD 1865, An Act to Enhance Career and Technical Education, is the first of four bills that are part of Gov. Paul R. LePage’s education agenda to be heard by the committee. The remaining three will be heard on Wednesday and Thursday and include proposals to increase school choice options for families and students and to enhance teacher effectiveness. The package of legislation was first announced in early February.

Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen plans to speak in favor of the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Brian Langley (R- Hancock County), at the public hearing, scheduled for 1 p.m.

The legislation primarily does four things:

  • It requires school districts that share a Career and Technical Education center to develop a common school calendar with no more than five dissimilar days. This will greatly reduce the likelihood that scheduling conflicts will interfere with students’ ability to attend Career and Technical Education classes. School officials have long said that such conflicts interfere with learning and cause logistical hardships.
  • The bill ensures that students will receive credit from their home high schools for all courses they take at the CTE school, including subjects like math and English. Some CTE schools offer regular high school courses so that students traveling long distances can not only complete their career and technical courses, but also the regular high school courses needed for graduation. These arrangements help to ease scheduling conflicts that often prevent students from enrolling in CTE classes.
  • Sending schools would also have to ensure that bus schedules and other logistics do not prevent students from being able to participate in the full number of hours of instruction at the CTE school. This is particularly important as schools move to more fully embrace national industry standards, many of which require a minimum number of hours of instruction.
  • Finally, the bill would require the community college system to review courses and award college credit to students who complete college-level work at a CTE school.

“We know that CTE programs provide students with knowledge and training that are not only important and meaningful to the students themselves, but are critical workforce skills for Maine’s economic future,” Bowen said. “We need to do everything we can to make it easier for students to take CTE courses, easier for schools to send their kids to CTE schools for some courses, and easier for students to get college credit and a jump start on post-secondary training and careers.”

The legislation follows recent unanimous committee support (and passage in the House and Senate) of legislation that moves Maine’s CTE programs toward full adoption of national industry standards, which will ensure Maine’s CTE students are well prepared for postsecondary education and careers.

Read more about the Governor’s education agenda.