Indiana Gov. Mike Pence told a Congressional committee on Wednesday that the federal government should give states more flexibility to work on education.
Pence testified before the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce and spent much of his time praising education in Indiana, citing vouchers, pre-K education, and calling the state legislative meeting in Indianapolis an “education session.”
However, the focus of the governor’s message was on the improvement of career and technical education in high schools.
“This is an idea whose time has come,” Pence said.
Pence wants Indiana schools to put more focus on giving students that don’t want to go to college better options for career and technical education.
“I believe Indiana will be the first state in America to make career and vocational education a priority in every high school again,” he said. “We have been working with unanimous bipartisan support in our General Assembly to both redesign career and technical education at the high school level in Indiana.
“Now in this session of our General Assembly, we’ll be funding it,” Pence said.
The governor told congressional leaders that there are many jobs across the nation that go unfilled because companies can’t find employees with the necessary skills to fill them.
Pence said giving students that don’t want to go to college the chance to learn vocational and technical skills while not sacrificing other educational priorities is important for the development of the workforce.
The governor emphasized that this is not a plan A or plan B situation, but a plan A or plan A opportunity where kids have the opportunity to set up their futures.
Pence also defended his decision to bypass an $80 million federal grant for preschool education. He told the committee that he felt Indiana should use its own resources to launch the pre-K program that serves 1,000 disadvantaged children. He said it wasn't appropriate to accept federal money to expand the program before it had started.
Critics have said the grant could have helped thousands of additional students.
Pence touted the state's voucher and charter school programs, and said efforts to make career and vocational education available in high schools are critical to closing the skills gap and giving students more career options.