Bennet rolls out bill to boost career and tech programs for low-income students

It’s been a big week for career and technical training in Colorado.

Students at Northglenn High School work during a bioscience class. (Nicholas Garcia/Chalkbeat)
Students at Northglenn High School work during a bioscience class. (Nicholas Garcia/Chalkbeat)
Students at Northglenn High School work during a bioscience class. (Nicholas Garcia/Chalkbeat)

By Nicholas GarciaChalkbeat

It’s been a big week for career and technical training in Colorado.

Following the kickoff of a new statewide apprenticeship program earlier in the week, Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet announced Friday he’s co-sponsoring a bill to create a grant program to beef up the nation’s career and technical offerings in public schools.

According to a press release from Bennet’s office, the Innovation for Tomorrow’s Workforce Act of 2016 would create a grant program to improve career and technical education. Programs that serve students predominantly from low-income families would get priority.

The current bill does not come with a price tag. That will be left up to the Appropriations Committee at a later date.

If the bill passes, the grant funds could be used for a variety of purposes including improving teacher effectiveness, integrating STEM and computer science into a state’s already existing programs, increasing work-based learning opportunities, and supporting employment outcomes for students.

“At a time when a great education has never been more important, we must create opportunities for those on the ground to innovate and create new approaches to providing key workforce skills,” Bennet said in a statement.

“In addition to creating a fund for innovation, this bill will help encourage states and communities to engage in pay-for-success initiatives,” he said. “It also promotes vital work-based learning opportunities and apprenticeships, which can be effective pathways to successful careers and well-paying jobs.”

To learn more about the state’s new apprenticeship program, read our story from Wednesday’s event.

And ICYMI, here’s our recent deep dive into STEM education in Colorado.

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.