FLATE’s Executive Director Reviews 2011 Workforce Education Mandates

Every year, the Florida legislature passes legislation that affects workforce education. At the Engineering Technology Forum that took place at Florida Gateway College in Lake City (FGC) last week, Eric Owens, state supervisor of the Manufacturing and Transportation Career Clusters provided an overview of how the 2011 education mandates, related to career and technical education, will be implemented in our state in the coming years. Here are a few that will have significant impact.

House Bill 1255 (School District Accountability) now requires: Districts’ 5 Year Strategic Plan include “regional workforce boards” and “economic development agencies” as partners; development of virtual education for middle school students, and mandates an objective review of CAPE courses and their industry certifications for student success and employment. There is also a new requirement that hopes to improve passage rates for industry certification exams if below 50%, implementing CAPE academy models with industry certification in the division of juvenile justice.

Other mandates move Florida Ready to Work from FLDOE to Workforce agencies and remove it as a criterion for CAPE academies. CAPE academies have to develop a sustainability plan. All districts will be required to implement one MS CAPE academy in 2012-2013 that aligns with an existing secondary academy. School grades for middle schools will include performance of its students in dual enrolled high school classes. House Bill 2120 (K-12 education funding) requires weighted funding formulas for CAPE academies with industry certifications based on both rigor and employment value for high school and middle schools, where applicable. HB 2150 (post-Secondary Education Funding) requires school districts and colleges to charge a standard fee for adult basic education, and redefines “adult” student. Previously, courses to achieve a GED were offered at no charge.

House Bill 7151 (post-secondary education) mandates that district workforce education funding, steering committee funding models must be recognized, secondary and post-secondary programs must be aligned with K-12 workforce education programs including CAPE academies, and that workforce education data must be consistent for college system and the school districts. This bill also requires that the Higher Education Coordinating Committee (HECC, www.highereducation.org) to provide a comprehensive report by December 2011 to the governor, the Board of Governors, and others on the enrollments and completion rates in all higher education degrees and certificates.

Despite the unsettling nature of ongoing changes in Florida’s education systems, change is (most often), a good thing.The evolving emphasis on accountability and the focus on job preparation at all post-secondary programs are giving us important and sometimes painful perspectives on our education systems. To redefine the education for the 21st century, and for the student who will enter the highly integrated 21st century world, we need to understand both the successes and failures of the old and existing systems, and the new opportunities that can be implemented to create a new framework for all educational levels.

The October edition of the Focus is packed with interesting stories. Join me in recognizing our 2011 FLATE Awardees, take a stab at this month’s STEM puzzle, and read how the FLATE-created statewide engineering technology degree meets a presidential directive in aligning workforce training with industry recognized credentials. The FLATE-Iberian Partnership for Technician Excellence is also well underway. You can read about FLATE’s ongoing student recruitment efforts for technician training in Spain next summer, and expand your knowledge about the workforce development initiatives of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.