Fla. Lawmakers Focus on Schools to Lower Unemployment

Reading, writing and arithmetic. They're the staples of a childhood education, but today the three Rs may no longer be enough.

Under a new bill, every Florida school district would have to develop career-themed courses in middle and high school. They'd focus on nursing, technology, construction and hammer home the hands-on skills employers are looking for.

Gwen Miller's 11th-grader is college-bound, unlike many of her friends.

"A lot of kids feel like, 'OK, I made it through high school. That's going to be enough'," she said. "But today, that's not nearly enough. So to come out of high school not looking forward to college but have a skill that they can work and take care of themselves, I think that's awesome."

Whether it's caring for the frail or operating heavy machinery, you don't need a college degree in English lit to land it. In fact, many jobs are going unfilled because employers can't scoop up the right talent.

It's a problem that isn't lost on Governor Scott. He's calling for a bigger focus on science, technology, engineering and math education as a way of attracting new companies to Florida.

"From K through 12 to state colleges to our universities, if we focus on stem graduates, it won't take long before people show up here," he said.

Career-themed courses would be built with the help of local businesses, offering the skills executives want most in a potential hire. The program would run the risk of shifting attention away from the three Rs and preparing students for the F-CAT, but Gwen's in full support.

"You have a lot of electives that they're taking that I think can be done away with in order to offer something that's going to really help them," she said.

And help our entire economy at a critical crossroads.

To entice kids to enroll in the courses, they'd be offered college credit. If they want to continue their education, they'd be able to apply it there.

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