Rep. MacEwen

For the second time in as many years, the Washington State House of Representatives has approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Drew MacEwen to provide greater access to career and technical education (CTE).

Under House Bill 1304, approved with a 95-1 vote Wednesday, the Vocational Alternative Learning Experience Pilot Program would be established. MacEwen, R-Union, believes the program would showcase the value of providing state funding for the expansion of CTE instruction in alternative learning experience (ALE) schools. Under current law, ALE schools are ineligible to receive enhanced funding for CTE.

“Career and technical education is vital to Washington state and our future economic prospects in an ever-evolving world,” said MacEwen. “Students who choose to pursue a non-traditional educational path deserve the state's full backing. If House Bill 1304 becomes law, I'm confident the pilot program will yield the relevant information we need to secure CTE funding enhancements for ALE schools for years to come.”

As many as 10 school districts would be chosen by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to participate in the pilot program, including two with multidistrict online school programs. Each district would participate for four complete school years, starting in the 2020-21 school year.

By Jan. 1, 2026, OSPI would be required to submit a report on the following:

  • The number of students participating in the pilot program that received the vocational program funding enhancement;
  • The impact of the program to career and technical education programming;
  • The fiscal impact of the program;
  • Recommendations for statewide implementation; and
  • Any other information deemed relevant by the OSPI.

The 2020 legislative session began Monday, Jan. 13.

(1) comment

Tom Davis

Back in the day, there were “Trade High Schools,” where the emphasis was less on academics and more on learning the basics of auto mechanics, or HVAC systems, or law enforcement. They even had a high school that specialized in animal husbandry (and this was in New York City). Fact is, not everyone is a cut out for a full-on academic experience, and a General Education diploma isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, HB 1304 represents a practical alternative for some students to learn marketable skills that do not require a college education. Now, that’s good legislation.

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