Collaborative Effort to Keep Students in School and on Path to Careers in Renewable Energy and Clean Technology
Sacramento—California State Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, and the California Energy Commission today launched a new $3.2 million program to help prepare California's high school students for jobs in clean technology and renewable energy.
Legislation by Steinberg (SBx1 1) approved last year called for creating and investing in Clean Energy and Technology Academies, modeled after the state's nearly 500 California Partnership Academies. The academies function as schools within schools, blending academic and career technical education to help students apply their knowledge in work-based settings and prepare for careers and college.
"About 48,000 California students are already a part of these remarkable academies that give them the opportunity to benefit not only from rigorous academics, but also to link these classroom lessons with technical training and real world work experiences," Torlakson said. "Students get to see why what they learn in school matters in the real world—and why they should care. That holds particularly true in clean tech and renewable energy fields, important—and growing—parts of California's economy."
Torlakson recently directed the California Department of Education to release the first installment of Green California Partnership Academy Program planning funds for campuses to begin development or refinement of the green academies. The list is attached.
The programs will provide students with opportunities in such industries as agricultural and natural resources, engineering and design, energy and utilities, building trades and construction, and manufacturing and product development. They all participated in a recent solar energy educator workshop, provided through a grant from the Department of Energy and coordinated by the Community College of San Francisco.
"According to the Brookings Report, 'Sizing the Clean Economy,' California has the most skilled clean technology and energy jobs in the country, with more than 315,000 employed in these sectors," said Energy Commission Chair Dr. Robert Weisenmiller. "The partnership academies are preparing high school students to enter this high-wage workforce."
The new funding comes at a critical time, as funding for the initial California Partnership Academies is set to end June 30, 2012. Torlakson and Steinberg will push for renewed funding later this year to continue supporting the programs.
"The reality is that too many of our students drop out of high school because they're bored and unmotivated. It's not because they're less intelligent than their peers, they simply don't see traditional curriculum leading to a real job," said Steinberg. "When these students are taught the core subjects of English, math, and science in ways that apply to real-world technical skills, they're inspired to get engaged in their studies and become more successful than ever before."
Academies will receive funding in installments, as they first launch their new programs and then demonstrate that they have created curriculum and activities designed to meet stringent academic and industry-specific requirements.
California Partnership Academies have proven successful in keeping at-risk students engaged in their work, and on the path to graduation. In fact, statistics show that academy students fare better than the general high school population, with lower drop-out rates, higher test scores among students of color, and greater enrollment in postsecondary institutions.
Of the 21 funded Green Academies, 12 are continuing programs that will augment their curriculum to ensure they continue to meet the objectives of the clean technology and renewable energy legislation. The full group of academies will also be the first in the state to open their doors to ninth grade students, thereby providing participants with a full four-year participation in this successful model.
[The California Department of Education (CDE) is a state agency led by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. For more information, please visit http://www.cde.ca.gov or by mobile device at http://m.cde.ca.gov/. You may also follow Superintendent Torlakson on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/TorlaksonSSPI and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CAEducation.]
Green California Partnership Academies Program