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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Gene Pelowski, Jr. (DFL)

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Rep. Pelowski’s Bill to Increase Number of K-12 Tech Teachers Advances Through Committee

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

St. Paul, MN – Yesterday, State Representative Gene Pelowski (DFL – Winona) presented bipartisan legislation, a product of last fall’s Winona Mini-Session of the Minnesota House of Representatives, to the House Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division, which he chairs. The legislation would establish a pilot program at Winona State University and Minnesota State College Southeast to increase the number of K-12 technical and vocational teachers.

“Every Minnesota High School Senior should have the option of graduating with an employable set of skills and a diploma by relinking Minnesota Technical Colleges and High Schools,” said Rep. Pelowski. “That was common 30 years ago; it no longer is common and it should be.”

The variety of technical and vocational classes previously offered in Minnesota’s schools have since migrated to post-secondary institutes over the years. The result has been fewer high school students with developed hands-on skills, as well as a lack of familiarity with a variety of career options. It has also led to a lack of licensed vocational teachers.

“What this is really about is getting industrial art, industrial science and technical teachers back in the K-12 schools so that pipeline starts to rebuild,” said Scott Olson, president of Winona State University.

The bill, HF 3232, would invest $250,000 in Winona State University and $150,000 in Minnesota State College Southeast to work together to create a teacher preparation program that would result in both a degree and license for teaching technical education courses. Specifically, funds would be used for course design, hiring educators, recruiting students, and program implementation. These two post-secondary schools were chosen due to their strong existing partnership in other areas.

“The dollars that would come to support this initiative, this pilot program, certainly would be an excellent investment, and you have a ready, willing, able group of folks that are ready to make it happen,” said Larry Lundblad, interim president of Minnesota State College Southeast. 

The bill was approved by the division and referred to the House Higher Education Finance and Policy Division. The Senate companion, SF 3308, authored by Senate President Jeremy Miller (R – Winona), awaits action by the Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee.

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