Bill making its way through General Assembly could change high school education

Posted at 5:54 PM, Feb 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-16 17:54:15-05

Richmond, Va. - A bill aimed to completely restructure high school education in Virginia is making its way through the General Assembly this legislative session thanks to Newport News native, Senator John Miller.

"This is an attempt to ensure that folks who aren't going to go to college have an opportunity to prepare themselves for the workforce of the 21st century," Miller told NewsChannel 3.

The bill would require the Board of Education to change the structure and graduation requirements for all high school students. According to Senator Miller, students in their first two years of high school would take general education courses. Then the last two years, junior and senior years, the students have options.

Students who want to go to college can continue with more advanced education.  However, students who don't want to go to college can have the opportunity to get an apprenticeship, internship or earn industry credentials to help build better students for the changing workforce.

"I think it gives more flexibility to a student who is trying to decide what they want to do than when you and I were in school," Miller added. "We have seen that the jobs of the future don't require college education, you need a skill, you need credentials."

However, high schools in Newport News have already caught on to the idea, offering Career Technical Education classes and work-study programs.

"We have students that are working with electricians, we have students that work with plumbers," said Menchville High School Principal Bobby Surry. "If we give them experience ahead of time so it's not something that is brand-new, then we are going to have a better group of young folks who are better prepared for their future endeavors."

Senate Bill 336 has already passed in the Senate and an identical billis already making its way through the House.

If passed, the Virginia Board of Education would have come up with their restructured plan by 2017 and then it will start impacting students starting with Freshmen in 2018.