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Sen. Rolfes named ‘Legislator of the Year’ by education leaders

Washington State Senator Christine Rolfes (D-Kitsap County, 23rd District). - Photo courtesy of the Senate Democratic Caucus
Washington State Senator Christine Rolfes (D-Kitsap County, 23rd District).
— image credit: Photo courtesy of the Senate Democratic Caucus

Sen. Christine Rolfes of Bainbridge Island has been named the 2014 "Legislator of the Year" by the Washington Association for Career and Technical Education.

The association announced the award for the 23rd District lawmaker Tuesday in Yakima.

“This recognition is especially meaningful to me this year,” Rolfes said. “We passed the 24-credit bill to help all Washington students – whether their after-graduation plan is an apprenticeship, a technical certification or a two- or four-year degree, we worked to make sure they leave high school qualified to take the next step.”

Rolfes, a Democrat, is a leading voice on education in the Legislature and the assistant ranking member on the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Committee.

She sponsored what was arguably the year’s most significant education reform bill, SB 6552. Signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee in April, the bill increases Washington’s high school graduation requirements from 20 credits to 24 credits, the minimum standard for college admission and many entry level careers, beginning with the class of 2019.

The bill also grants students who plan to pursue something other than a four-year degree the flexibility to take Career and Technical Education classes in place of core classes.

“Your strong support of career and technical education (CTE) is greatly appreciated by all our members,” said Tim Knue, executive director of WA-ACTE. “You have been a friend to CTE and it has certainly been noticed by the CTE field.”

With more than 11 million secondary and post-secondary career and technical education students in the U.S., the WA-ACTE represents the interests of those students in Washington training for careers in a variety of professions from nursing to business to agriculture. Nearly two-thirds of all high school graduates of career and technical programs enter a post-secondary program.

“It isn’t my job as a legislator, or a parent for that matter, to tell kids what they should do with their futures,” Rolfes said. “But it is the responsibility of all of us to give them their best chance of success."

"The leaders in the Career and Technical education field work really hard to do that, and I am grateful to be a part of their efforts,” she added.

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