Senate Leader, Employers and Educators Launch $250 million Education Grant

October 28, 2013

(Sacramento, CA) – California Senate leader Darrell Steinberg was joined today by employers and educators to launch a $250 million education grant program designed to reduce high school dropout rates and prepare students for college and careers. The $250 million grant, which incentivizes partnerships between schools and businesses to develop career-oriented education, was a budget priority and victory for the state Senate Democratic Caucus.

“We’ve invested a lot of time and money helping kids after they drop out of school, without enough focus on prevention,” said Senator Steinberg (D-Sacramento). “This substantial grant reaches California’s kids before they fail by keeping them engaged with an education that’s both rigorous and relevant to college and career. With this Linked Learning model of learning, curriculum comes alive through the lens of careers and ultimately leads to good-paying jobs.”

The grant, known as the “Career Pathways Trust” (CPT), is a $250 million appropriation in the 2013-14 Budget Act that funds competitive grants for high schools, community colleges and their business partners to create pathways for careers in high-need and high-growth economic sectors. Grants will be available over a three-year period, and may be spent by grantees through 2018.

The CPT is designed to address a skills gap in California, where employers in the state face a shortage of skilled workers in certain occupations despite a state unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent. Skills shortages are particular profound in sectors requiring scientific, technical, engineering or math expertise, which are also projected to be the fastest growing occupations in the next decade. Career-oriented curriculum has also demonstrated improvements in reducing dropout rates by engaging students in real-world work. A 2011 state study shows that 95 percent of 12th graders in California Partnership Academies graduated from high school, which is ten percent higher than the statewide overall graduation rate.

“We applaud Senator Steinberg for having the vision and providing the leadership that led to the inclusion of the Career Pathway State Fund in the state budget,” said Christopher Cabaldon, Executive Director of Linked Learning Alliance. “This will help stimulate the new partnerships between employers and schools critical to making Linked Learning available at scale across this region. We need employer partners to advise Linked Learning pathways, work with teachers to ensure instruction is aligned to the most up-to-date industry standards, and offer students real work experience through internships and other work-based learning opportunities.”

Joining Steinberg and Cabaldon at Health Professions High School in Sacramento this morning were regional school Superintendents Jonathan Raymond (Sacramento City Unified), Dr. Steven Ladd (Elk Grove Unified), and Deborah Bettencourt (Folsom-Cordova Unified). Also in attendance were representatives from AT&T and the high school’s student body president, Paloma Figuera.

This evening, Steinberg will be joined by business and community leaders at a convening to build awareness and garner support from local companies to support the Career Pathways Trust regional plan.

A bipartisan delegation of State Senators visited Long Beach Unified school district in February of this year to study the successes and challenges in the implementation of linked learning. Earlier this month, Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff (R – Diamond Bar), Senator Fran Pavley (D – Agoura Hills), Senator Mark Wyland (R – Escondido), and Senator Steinberg visited Swiss high schools, where students receiving career-oriented education have higher rates of attendance and graduation, and enhanced job skills through apprenticeships. Switzerland’s youth unemployment rate of four percent is the lowest in the world.

The CPT follows in the footsteps of Senate Bill 1458 of 2012 (Steinberg), which broadens the state’s school rating system (the Academic Performance Index or API), to include critical factors such as high school graduation rates and students’ degree of readiness for college and career. Prior to SB 1458, the API was based entirely on standardized test scores in limited subjects. The redefined API is currently being developed by the State Board of Education.

Attached please find a synopsis of the Career Pathways Trust.