The committee encourages the district to work with employers to understand the minimum requirements and assurances needed for students to participate as a work-based learning employee for the organization. Some employers may be willing to accept students who do not meet all MNPS’s current eligibility requirements. If students meet the state requirements, they could be placed and supported accordingly. Further, MNPS and Metro government could provide work-based learning experiences for students who may require more support or flexibility than their peers. The committee is also interested in understanding what options exist at the state level to adjust Tennessee’s work-based learning requirements.
The committee recognizes that other factors play a role in students not qualifying for work-based learning, including chronic absenteeism and learning loss from the pandemic. These challenges cannot be solved by MNPS alone, and we encourage the district to continue to partner with the many youth development agencies and nonprofits engaged in this work. As MNPS continues to make feasible accommodations, we encourage the district to provide students with a clear point of contact if they are concerned that they will be ineligible or unable to maintain eligibility.
With an increase in the number of businesses offering hybrid or remote work, students have more opportunities to work from anywhere, helping address transportation challenges. At Johnson Alternative Learning Center, a pre-apprenticeship program for a population that is plagued by low attendance was established along with a focus on credit recovery. How might MNPS expand those opportunities?
Lastly, while WIOA funds cannot be used to support payment to undocumented populations, other districts have offered travel vouchers or scholarships to students without documentation. While such supports would require additional planning and fundraising, we believe all options must be considered if we hope to include every student who seeks a work-based learning experience.