The Phoenix Flyer

Not all students go to college: Gov. DeSantis wants kids to get into career tech programs and get good jobs

By: - February 20, 2019 1:44 pm
Lively Tech welder

A welding student at Lively Technical Center in Tallahassee, Fl. Diane Rado/Florida Phoenix

During the campaign season, then-candidates Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum found common ground: Expanding career and technical education programs that can prepare kids for work without getting a four-year college degree.

Now as governor, DeSantis is following through on some of his career tech goals.

DeSantis recommended about $507-million for “workforce education” in his proposed 2019-10 budget, up from $483-million in the current year.

The increase includes $4-4-million in federal dollars, for a total of $71.6 million for high school and post high school career and tech programs. The money would be used to build a quality career and technical education system focused on “high-skill, high-wage and high-demand occupations,”  among other measures.

DeSantis also has proposed a $10-million competitive grant program called “The Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant.”  The money would be used for students starting in 9th grade and beyond who enter a “career pathway.”

The idea is to master skills needed to graduate with a career certificate or a two-year technical degree that would allow a student to get an entry-level position in an industry, according to the governor’s office.

School districts, public charter schools and Florida Colleges, known as community colleges, would be able to apply for the grants. Students also would be able to get internships, apprenticeships and other job training.

The grant program and the overall budget for workforce education must be approved by the Legislature, and the timing may be right now that students are facing crippling college debt, and industry officials want to make sure they have a skilled workforce.

And while political party fights on public education in Congress and state legislatures have been common, career tech programs have generally become a bipartisan goal.

The Foundation for Excellence in Education, known as ExcelinEd, was founded by former Gov. Jeb Bush, and has been providing extensive work in providing information on high-quality career and technical education programs. The information is posted on the organization’s website.


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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.