Congresswoman Gwen Graham is pushing for new education bill

Panama City, Florida - Getting young people to think about the future can sometimes be a challenge, but U.S. Representative Gwen Graham is introducing a program that will prepare students to enter the real world.

Although Graham was at Rutherford High School today, her message was all about bringing more opportunities to middle school students.

Graham announced the Middle School Technical Education Program, also known as the Middle Step Act.

Graham met with students and teachers at the Rutherford High School Manufacturing and Engineering Academy. She hopes programs like theirs will soon be in middle schools across the state.

Freshman at Rutherford High School, Le'Aysa Gaines says their academy will help her once she enters the real world.

“If I already have all of that experience and know what to expect, and know how to do everything, then it will be easy-going for me,” said Gaines.

Graham says she was inspired to introduce the legislation when she learned about the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council's work to expand technical training in middle schools.

Graham says that the Department of Education spends around a billion dollars on vocational education but lacks the authorization to use that money in middle schools. The Middle Step Act would change that and make those funds available.

“The younger you can get them excited about career opportunity, then the better they feel about coming to school as well,” said Graham.

Graham will still be at the Nelson Building at 12:30 for Military Academy Day. All students and parents are invited to learn about different options available when joining the military.

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