Career Tech education is rising to the forefront of the conversation on education and workforce reform. “Career Tech education” is a term that refers to classes taught in 7-12th grade & community/tech. colleges that use hands-on, applied methods rather than solely book-focused, lecture-based training. Career Tech courses arm students with the information, skills, and experiences necessary for a lifetime of career success.

Unfortunately, Washington State’s Career Tech classes are in jeopardy because of a funding shortfall. There were promising efforts to enhance funding in the 2016 session, but none of them became law. 

Career tech legislation

During the 2016 legislative session, a number of bills were proposed to strengthen Career Tech.

  • Senate Bill 6415
  • House Bill 2868 (companion to SB 6415)
  • Senate Bill 6661 (funding attached)
  • House Bill 2989 (funding attached)
  • House Budget Amendment 2376 (died in a party-line vote; all Rs in favor, all Ds opposed)

Let’s look back at the session that was and identify some who stood up in support of hands-on, vocational learning for Washington students. 

This list is not exhaustive. There are many more individuals who advocated for Career Tech in K-12. If you know an elected official who deserves inclusion, let the Business Alliance know.

Who deserves praise for behind-the-scenes work, and sticking their necks out for the career tech cause?

Rep. Matt Manweller (R, Ellensburg)
  • Organized the Career Tech floor vote on 2989
  • Gave a passionate floor speech
  • Holds a leadership position among the House Rs.
Rep. Ed Orcutt (R, Olympia)
  • Gave a passionate floor speech for Career Tech.
Senator Linda Parlette (R, Lake Chelan)
  • Former Majority Caucus Chair.
  • Cares about her district Ag. programs.
  • Retiring.
Rep. Liz Pike (R, Vancouver)
  • Sponsored legislation that would require every student to complete a job internship in high school.
 Rep. Chris Reykdal (D, Olympia)
  • Running for Superintendent of Public Instruction (will not stay in Legislature)
  • Bill sponsor
Senator Ann Rivers (R, Vancouver)
  • Sponsor of multiple Career Tech bills.
  • Serves on Senate Ed. Committee.
  • Serves on McCleary Taskforce.
  • Majority Whip.
Senator Christine Rolfes (D, Bainbridge Island)
  • Senate Democratic floor leader.
  • Career Tech Bill Sponsor.
  • Serves on Ed. Committee.
  • Serves on McCleary Taskforce
Rep. Norma Smith (R, Whidbey Island)
  • Gave a passionate floor speech for Career Tech.
 Rep. Gael Tarleton (D, Ballard)
  • Majority Floor Leader
  • Sponsored Career Tech bills
Rep. Maureen Walsh (R, Walla Walla)
  • Voice for Career Tech within her caucus.
  • Sponsored Career Tech bills.
  • Gave a passionate floor speech. 
Senator Judy Warnick (R, Ellensburg)
  • Sponsor of Career Tech bills.
  • Member of joint final budget negotiations.
Rep. Jesse Young (R, Bremerton)
  • Sponsoring legislation to facilitate more maritime/aerospace K-12 learning options.

Senate Bill 6415 and House Bill 2868

All the legislators who co-sponsored these companion bills should be praised for their support for career-connected learning in Washington schools.