The House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee set aside three hours Wednesday to tackle a signature education bill aimed at achieving a goal both candidates for governor campaigned upon.
It needed just 15 minutes to win unanimous approval for a series of proposals aimed at amplifying the role of career education in teens’ efforts to graduate from high school.
“We haven’t emphasized the career part as much as we should,” said committee chairman and bill sponsor Rep. Ralph Massullo, a Citrus County Republican. “We’re making an effort to do that.”
The committee bill would require middle school students to take a career planning course that includes creation of a personalized academic and career plan. It would allow high school students to substitute certain industry certifications for their math graduation requirements, and computer science courses for up to one math credit and up to one science credit.
It would let students replace their Algebra II requirement with an “equally rigorous course.” It would require schools to provide opportunities to earn technology-based industry certifications.
It also would set new requirements for the provision of dual enrollment course agreements. And it would work to make apprenticeship programs more accessible.
Massullo has advocated for such ideas since joining the Legislature. And he is not alone.
Several other lawmakers have proposed ideas to substitute test requirements, add career certification options and other ideas to help students demonstrate they are ready to graduate high school.
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One of them, Rep. Susan Valdes — the committee’s ranking Democrat — called the committee bill “great” and said she looked forward to supporting it. Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, R-St. Johns, also offered her backing.
“I think there should be alternatives,” Stevenson said. “I’m really encouraged by this bill.”
Massullo said he hoped by placing more attention on the different possibilities, students will be more enthusiastic about their learning.
“We need to prepare them for their lives after education,” he said. “That desire to learn actually compensates for the knowledge they don’t have when they enter the work force.”
The Senate has not yet proposed a similar measure.
Related coverage: ‘One size doesn’t fit all.’ Should Florida widen the path to high school graduation?