McCrory signs college and career-ready diploma endorsements

Feb. 18, 2013 @ 06:24 PM

Gov. Pat McCrory signed his first bill into law Monday. 

The law, which originated in the senate, has the short title, "Increase Access to Career/Technical Ed." 

The law will establish high school diploma endorsements. When a student graduates, their diploma will indicate if they are college-ready, career-ready or both. 

Rep. Craig Horn, R-68, said the law will help students who are not college-ready. He also felt the law was symbolically important. 

"It helps in the broad sense, to have the first bill the new governor signs be an education-related bill," Horn said. "I hope, I think, that sends a clear message on the importance he puts on education in general."

"I think that's a big deal," Horn added. 

Horn often travels the state and one of the things he often hears is that vocational education in high schools needs to be has not been treated in a manner that is good for students or employers. 

"This, I think, goes right at upgrading the whole concept of vocational education courses in schools," Horn said. "Today, those skills are both in high demand and they are in fact more complex. So offering students the opportunity to come out of high schools...that's going to fill job needs." 

The endorsements will be made by the state board of education. 

"There will be a shift away from four-year schools because everybody is not college material," State Senator Tommy Tucker said. 

Tucker said that the endorsements could save students money, as the cost of tuition increases and student debt becomes an increasing problem. 

Tucker owns Parks Heating & Cooling in Harrisburg. 

"For my own business, I have a great deal of difficulty finding HVAC (heating, ventilation and air condition) technicians because it's a job that requires you use your hands, be outside, get in some places that are not exactly like an office...those are the challenges from all of us," Tucker said. 

"We have an entire generation behind a generation coming up that does not know how to use its hands," Tucker said. 

Tucker was told during hearings that there are roughly 9,000 manufacturing jobs in North Carolina that are unfilled because the labor force lacks the skills to fill the jobs.

"What we want to do is offer different career paths," Tucker said. "(We want to) offer a different career path for them."

Horn wants to align education with outcomes and job prospects, whether students go to community college or a university. 

State Superintendent of Public Education June Atkinson welcomed the law. 

"This new law adds value to the hard work of students who choose to focus their high school studies in a technical field. These students often go above and beyond the current high school graduation requirements in order to prepare for a technical career," Atkinson said in a statement. "The new law, by providing diploma endorsements, gives students options and an incentive to pursue more than one track to graduation, as they can focus on preparing for a career in a technical field as well as college."

Atkinson said she knows from her own experience that the law will be helpful for students.

"In retrospect, as a high school student, I completed the requirements for a career technical field and the college preparation curriculum, so I know first hand that the combination served me well during my career. Research shows that the combination of college prep and career technical education has served many students' career goals," she said in a statement.

Horn was pleased with how quickly the bill went through both houses and that it was signed.

"I am pleased that this legislation will encourage more students to move forward after high school graduation to enter the workforce or to continue their studies in a technical field at the community college level," Atkinson said in her statement. 

The law also states that the state board of education will identify school systems with a need for career and technical education teachers and coordinate place of NC Teacher Corps members in those schools. 

The state board will also work with the state board of community colleges to develop strategies to increase students interested in career and technical education and enroll additional students.