This week, the Delaware Department of Education announced it had secured a $100,000 grant to develop a detailed career readiness action plan—an essential step to expanding economic opportunity for young people across the First State.
The grant, which also went to 23 other states and the District of Columbia, was secured through phase one of New Skills for Youth grant opportunity. The grants are one piece of a $75 million, five-year initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase, in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers and Advance CTE, aimed at increasing economic opportunity for young people by strengthening career-focused education, starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with business needs.
The grant also represents the latest in a recent surge of momentum for Delaware Pathways initiatives. Just last month, more than 250 people attended the 2nd Annual Delaware Pathways Conference at Delaware Technical Community College near Stanton. Throughout the day, representatives from district and charter schools, higher education institutions, business, and non-profit gathered to celebrate the work underway and discuss the vision for the future of Delaware Pathways. What they discovered is that the future of Pathways is incredibly bright.
Pathways received a big boost back in 2015, when Governor Jack Markell announced the Delaware Promise, a commitment that by 2025, 65 percent of Delaware’s workforce will earn a college degree or professional certificate.
Over the last six months, the governor’s office has led a small team of partners to develop a plan for reaching this goal, and ensure students have choices beyond high school. A draft of the new strategic plan can be found here. The plan highlights opportunities to expand career pathways and counseling, connections to higher education, and increased employer engagement to broaden the opportunities available for our students. The draft plan proposes we accomplish this by:
The plan will be available for public comment until May 2016, and any comments can be given directly through the Pathways website. There, you can also request a meeting to learn more about the plan and the work underway.
Partnerships across education, business, and the non-profit sector have made this work possible, and Delaware Pathways will only continue to grow stronger with your support.
If ever there was a time to get involved—now is the time. This year, more than 2,500 students across the state are enrolled in pathways ranging from advanced manufacturing, computer science, engineering, biomedical science, and culinary arts and hospitality. The course offerings will continue to expand over the next several years to include opportunities in other high-demand fields such as finance, health care, and education.
Pathways, as you might remember, allow students to gain academic and technical skills, with opportunities to earn college credits, industry-recognized credentials, and work experience in an in-demand field.
These pathways provide students with a career ladder (see example above) that defines opportunities for entrance and advancement in a career area as they gain education and work experience. For example, a student in information technology could work as computer user support specialist while they work to gain the education and experience needed to advance to a computer network support specialist or network administrator.
Every student has a different idea about how life will unfold after high school. We hope that pathways provide them with a plethora of options and opportunities to explore.
About 20 years ago, I was teaching in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and met Larry Rosenstock, a really creative vocational education teacher at Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school.
Larry saw the power in letting kids drive their own learning process by developing large-scale projects, to which they could apply what they had learned in class. Larry went on to create a great charter school out in San Diego called High Tech High.
About a decade ago, Rodel sponsored a trip with Delaware educators to go see the school in action. More recently, a documentary called “Most Likely to Succeed” has come out about High Tech High, and how it can offer lessons for all schools.
I haven’t seen the film yet, but I appreciated David Brooks’ take on it for the New York Times. The approach at High Tech High–emphasizing the relational skills like collaboration, perseverance, and innovation–is something the Vision Coalition of Delaware hopes to see more of in our schools in the years ahead.
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