Rapid technological advances, the advent of a global economy, changing demographics and restructuring of the traditional workplace have dictated changes in educational programs designed to prepare work force entrants and incumbents. More emphasis must be placed on the transfer of technology, via the educational system, to the workplace resulting in an academically and technically literate work force. A structure must be established to provide incentives, high expectations and encouragement for talented vocational-technical students to pursue advanced education and training related to their technical disciplines, as well as provide a mechanism for the technical updating of vocational-technical teachers and administrators, including opportunities for the attainment of advanced degrees.
The economic future of the state of West Virginia will be greatly influenced by the ability of the educational system to prepare competent individuals for a highly competitive and technological workplace. Excellence in terms of faculty, programs and educational opportunities for all West Virginians will greatly affect the degree of future economic prosperity within the state. With the enactment of this article, the Legislature intends to address a major void in the current system of vocational-technical education in West Virginia through the creation of a comprehensive program of educational incentives for talented students, teachers and administrators. The results of the programs and initiatives proposed by this article can have a significant impact toward achieving excellence in vocational-technical education within West Virginia and revitalizing the state's economy.
The West Virginia board of education shall establish by the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety, an annual academy for talented vocational-technical education students, including a foundation for receiving private financial support. The purposes of the academy are to stimulate and reward student commitment to excellence in secondary vocational-technical education; to stimulate growth in the critical and creative thinking abilities of vocational-technical students; to assist exceptionally talented secondary vocational-technical education students to achieve their individual potentials; to bridge the gap between educational practice and the technological workplace; and to provide a medium for interaction between talented vocational-technical students and innovative leaders of business and industry and labor.
The state board of education may establish a coordinating committee to set operating guidelines for the academy and supporting foundation, including, but not limited to, selection of participants, promotion, program development, location, facilities and staffing.
The nonprofit academy foundation shall exist to solicit private funds and resources to enhance the operation of the academy.
Beginning with the school year one thousand nine hundred eighty-nine--ninety, the state board of education shall establish a scholarship program for outstanding secondary vocational-technical education graduates to pursue additional post-secondary college work in a related career or technical field. The board may award twenty annual scholarships, not to exceed two thousand dollars each, based on criteria to be established by the board. Additionally, the board may award fifteen annual scholarships, not to exceed one thousand dollars each, to outstanding vocational-technical teachers for the purpose of pursing advanced degrees or technical updating of their professional competencies. The criteria for awarding the educator scholarships shall be promulgated by the board. The foundation provided for in section two of this article shall solicit private sector funds for these scholarships.
The West Virginia board of regents shall establish by the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-one, a plan for a coordinate interdisciplinary doctoral program in vo-tech education utilizing existing facilities and personnel of state universities, colleges, the state department of education vocational-technical staff and board of regents members.
The West Virginia board of education shall maintain and expand an annual vocational-technical education administrator's academy. The purposes of this academy are to stimulate excellence in vocational-technical education programming statewide through the development of progressive instructional leadership, planning and program development competencies of vocational-technical education administrators.
The board may establish a coordinating committee made up of the department of education staff, local vocational administrators and representatives of the vocational-technical education department at Marshall University to plan and administer this program. The nonprofit academy foundation established in section two of this article shall exist to solicit private funds and resources to enhance the operation of the academy.
The state board of education shall establish a unified technology transfer program for vocational-technical educators, beginning the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety. This program shall emphasize initiatives designed to improve the transfer of technology through the vocational-technical education curriculum. Such initiatives must impact on improved staff development, curricula and instructional methods reflecting work applications of the new and emerging technologies. The vocational-technical education system must be a catalyst in bridging the gap between high technology and the workplace. Workers for the twenty-first century must know how to install, operate and maintain high technology equipment, systems and processes.
The unified technology transfer program shall provide innovative staff development opportunities through the following initiatives:
(a) A technical update program for vocational-technical education teachers to learn high technology skills needed to teach the operation, maintenance, or repair of high technology equipment, through placement in industry, formal technical coursework, seminars, teleconferences and other staff development functions;
(b) A "Teachers-Teach-Teachers" program to allow the most effective teachers in the state to instruct fellow teachers on how to effectively teach and incorporate high technology skills in the classroom and laboratory;
(c) An "Academy Chair" program to allow education or business-industry persons to serve as a resident expert in the transfer of technology, including conducting seminars in educational institutions, teleconferences and in the workplace;
(d) A business and education exchange program to allow vocational-technical education teachers to work in a company or business, while the business person teaches in the vocational-technical education program;
(e) A beginning teacher internship program to allow new vocational-technical teachers to receive guidance from a mentor teacher in teaching high technology skills, including acquisition of such skills; and
(f) A vocational-technical completer capstone experience program that allows talented students an opportunity to learn high technology skills appropriate for their occupational area of study through internship placement in an appropriate business or industry setting.
The state board of education may formulate policies and procedures designed to implement this section.
The foundation provided for in section two of this article shall solicit private sector funds and encourage partnerships to implement this program.