A bill in the Alabama Legislature authorizing a $50 million bond issue to replace outdated equipment in high school technology programs should make it to the governor’s desk.
With bipartisan support, the bill has cleared the House and made it through the Senate Taxation-Education Committee in a unanimous vote.
Philip Cleveland, workforce development and career tech director for the state Department of Education, said the state hasn’t provided money for new equipment since schools got $10 million in 2005. He said Alabama’s 134 city and county school systems will work with local industry to determine what equipment is needed to get jobs for graduates.
One of the greatest needs in public education is to provide adequate training and equipment for schools to effectively reach students who are not bound for traditional four-year colleges. The economy in Alabama and elsewhere is also showing a need for more trained workers to step in with technical skills that do not require four-year degrees.
For proponents pushing the bonds, the question is not as much about money as graduation rates. The idea that students should be taught in the same methods of 20 years ago is short-sighted and certain to put Alabama students behind.
Tommy Glasscock, director of career technical education in Chilton County, said the students he gets are typically not performing well in traditional academic classes. But he sees their eyes light up when they try welding, auto repair, and other trades. They find a reason to want to learn when such training is available in high school.
Lawmakers are on the right track to push for this bond issue. Upgrading equipment in the state’s public schools for technical training is an important step in keeping students in school and providing them a skill for worthwhile employment.
The Senate should push forward and get this bill approved so that Gov. Robert Bentley can sign it into law. This effort is an excellent attempt to provide something meaningful for thousands of students across the state.