Senate Education Committee hears controversial CTE-STEM oversight bill
Friday, March 31, 2017
Morgan Allen, deputy executive director of policy and advocacy for the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (right),
and OSBA Legislative Specialist Richard Donovan testify Thursday before the Senate Education Committee against Senate Bill 297. (Photo by Jake Arnold, OSBA)
Senate Bill 297 would make major changes to the system of oversight for career and technical education and science, technology, engineering and math programs.
The bill would dissolve the existing STEM Investment Council and create, in its place, a new board, the CTE-STEM Investment Council. The composition of the new council would be almost the same as the existing council but would have greatly expanded levels of oversight.
Bills passed in 2013 created a two-track system of oversight for STEM and CTE investments. STEM investments are overseen by the Chief Education Office, and the current STEM Investment Council advises on those investments. CTE investments are overseen by the deputy superintendent of public instruction, and the Oregon Department of Education is responsible for CTE grants administration, including program monitoring.
The Senate Education Committee heard testimony Thursday on SB 297.
The bill's main proponents include representatives of organizations that are currently members of the STEM council. Supporters want to see more integration of CTE and STEM education by aligning the oversight.
OSBA and other education stakeholder groups, including the Confederation of School Administrators, opposed the bill.
Richard Donovan, OSBA legislative specialist, testified that enacting SB 297 would represent “a hostile takeover of an entire programmatic area without regard for the best interests of the students of Oregon.”
There is no need for the changes proposed by SB 297, he said, noting that in the bill, “there is no requirement for any programmatic or classroom-level experience or expertise” on the new board.
“There are no educators, administrators or school board members listed as voting members,” he said. “There is no required coordination between the agency personnel doing the actual school- and program-level work and the CTE-STEM Investment Council members. These are glaring omissions.”
OSBA will monitor the bill. Responses from committee members were mixed; some legislators seemed to be in favor of the bill and others opposed. No further hearings have been scheduled.