The New Jersey School Boards Association has convened a committee to review and update the findings and recommendations of its 2018 task force report on “the non-college bound learner.”

The importance of this review is two-fold. First, the Association has authored a number of task force reports on important topics, such as school security, mental health, the teacher shortage, and several surrounding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education. These reports are living documents that provide the most value when they are periodically reviewed and updated.

While the committee that has been convened to review this particular report only recently began its work, a cursory review of the topic shows that despite concerted efforts, there are gaps in the progress toward preparing these students for the future.

The charge to the committee is:

“The Committee on Educational Opportunities for the Career-Focused Learner will review the 2018 report of the NJSBA Task Force on Educational Opportunities for the Non-College-Bound Learner. It will consider recent developments affecting enrollment, staffing, programming, facilities and funding. As necessary, the committee will update findings and recommendations of the 2018 report and will make additional recommendations.”

The committee will also consider a name change. The 2018 report notes:

“(T)he term ‘non-college-bound learner’ suggests a negative (absence of college) rather than a positive (focused on career) and should be replaced with ‘career-focused learner’ in all references to this population of students. While this report continues to use the term ‘non-college-bound learner’ because it was part of the original charge, the Task Force recommends that, going forward, all references be to the ‘career-focused learner.’”

The American Federation of Teachers dedicated its Spring 2024 issue of the American Educator to career and technical education and experiential learning. Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT, observed, “In his 2024 State of the Union address, President Biden said one of his key economic and educational priorities was ‘Connecting businesses and high schools, so students get hands-on experience and a path to a good-paying job whether or not they go to college.’

“It’s a watershed moment. A U.S. president talking not about standardized test scores, but about  the promise of career pathways — taking career and technical education (CTE) off the sidelines and making it a priority in high schools.”

Workshop 2024 will feature a “Career Readiness and Dual Enrollment Exposition” on the exhibit floor that will provide information about bolstering career readiness among students. Meanwhile, the committee will issue its report in December. We look forward to its findings.