Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Governor Pence To Talk Career Education Efforts At National Education Summit

Gene Hack, director of C4 Columbus Area Career Connection, watches a commercial construction crew lay cement blocks for a dugout on Aug. 30, 2012. Students in the building trades program are working with professionals to build a new baseball stadium.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Gene Hack, director of C4 Columbus Area Career Connection, watches a commercial construction crew lay cement blocks. Students in the building trades program are working with professionals to build a new baseball stadium for the district.

Governor Mike Pence will be talking about career and technical education in New York City Monday at an NBC-sponsored education summit with two other governors.

Expanding access to vocational training program was at the cornerstone of Pence’s education platform during his campaign last fall. But as CNHI’s Maureen Hayden reports, students may not be taking advantage of existing opportunities:

He has his work cut out for him: Indiana spends more than $100 million a year on vocational education in its high schools, but only turns out a few thousand students a year with an industry-approved credential or certificate that indicates they’ve received job training. Of the 100,000 students who take an initial vocational education class, only about 10,000 continue on to take a second class and to graduate with a concentration in vocational education.

Pence wants to fix that by giving employers more say in what’s taught in high school. He’s created a series of regional career councils —  made up of local business leaders and educators — to look at the vocational education courses currently being offered and design new ones, if needed, to better match the local needs.

“The way we can jumpstart Indiana’s commitment to career and vocational education,” Pence said, “is by anchoring it to the jobs and opportunities available in each region.”The regional career councils have already begun their work, and they are expected to come up with a series of recommendations for what’s needed from the legislature to make changes in vocational education.

The regional career councils have already begun their work, and they are expected to come up with a series of recommendations for what’s needed from the legislature to make changes in vocational education.

The Works Councils fall under the umbrella of the newly-created Center for Education and Career Innovation. The two groups have until Nov. 1 to make their first report to the Education Roundtable but have only met once in the past month.

Still, Pence says he isn’t worried about hitting that deadline.

“The reports that I receive from our team is that the scheduling is going forward apace and we’re going to hit our mark with those early reporting requirements,” Pence told Indiana Public Broadcasting reporter Brandon Smith last week.

Part of the new education agency’s goal is coordinating efforts to promote career and technical training across the state. We’ve written before that well-regarded vocational education programs exist in Indiana — we visited one last year in Pence’s hometown of Columbus — but the governor says those opportunities need to be available in every high school, not just in certain regions.

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