(The Center Square) – A vocational education program by Gov. Bill Lee is one of several laws that go into effect Wednesday in Tennessee.
The Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) Act will provide dual enrollment grants to high school juniors and seniors to complete credits in high-skill, high-demand trades at community colleges and the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT). It also establishes regional partnerships to provide new work-based learning and apprenticeship programs for vocational education.
Vocational education has been a priority for the Lee administration. The GIVE Act was the first legislative proposal Lee laid out in his first State of the State address in 2019.
“I’ve spoken often about the four out of 10 students will not attend college. For them, we must vastly strengthen our vocational, technical, and agricultural offerings to make sure they are career-ready,” Lee said in his 2019 State of the State address. “Elementary and middle schools need to begin skills training earlier and, from top to bottom, high school needs to look a lot different. In that spirit, I’m proposing the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education – the GIVE Act.”
Passed by the General Assembly last year, the program is part of Lee’s initiative to increase the number of young adults earning industry certification and entering careers within a year of graduating high school.
GIVE grants are funded by excess lottery dollars after HOPE, Tennessee Promise and Reconnect scholarships are completely funded. A student’s acceptance of a GIVE dual enrollment grant will not make the student ineligible for the HOPE Scholarship or Tennessee Promise.
Other laws going into effect Wednesday include a measure by Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, and Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, to allow licensed medical professionals to use direct medical care agreements without regulation by insurance laws. Previously, only physicians could use such agreements.
Another new law, sponsored by Sen. Shane Reeves, R-Murfreesboro, and Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, establishes the Tennessee Rare Disease Advisory Council.
A new law sponsored by Sen. Bill Powers, R-Clarksville, and Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, allows the commissioner of education to approve applying school districts to increase class sizes by one or two students to decrease the number of teaching positions needed in the district. Resulting savings can be used to fund a scholarship program to train new certified teachers for the district.
Teachers convicted of certain crimes against children will have their license revoked by the State Board of Education under a new law, sponsored by Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, and Rep. Debra Moody, R-Covington. Crimes include arson; burglary; child abuse, neglect or endangerment; providing handguns to juveniles; and sexual offenses.