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Sep
2014
2

Building Trades, Dept of Ed Launch Refreshing Approach to Skills Training in CA High Schools

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As the new school year begins, nine high schools in California are poised to display the merits of a pilot program which will prepare students to participate in pre-apprenticeships in the construction trades.  The “MC3” – or Multi-Craft Core Curriculum — will focus on building trades math; labor history; training to recognize and prevent hazards in construction sites; first aid and CPR training; and an introduction to the trade industries.  The MC3 program has previously only been available to participants over the age of 18.  

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson delivered the good news:

“Career technical education gets at the heart of what we want for our students: real-world skills and knowledge that will allow them to succeed outside our classrooms,” Torlakson said. “The MC3 program makes clear to students that what they are learning in school can have a direct effect on their careers after they leave school, keeping them engaged in their own learning.”

The MC3 program will be taught in California Partnership Academies (CPAs) which act as schools within schools. The aim is to provide career opportunities to students at risk of dropping out or whose schools rank below average on the state’s Academic Performance Index.  The three-year program has resulted in a 95 percent graduation rate among its participants.  
The MC3 program came to fruition thanks to collaboration between the California Department of Education, California Labor Federation, North America’s Building Trades Unions and the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.  

Upon MC3 completion, program graduates will be eligible for an “above entry level job” in construction or an apprenticeship in the building and construction trades.  Students will be recruited for the program in 9th grade and will begin coursework the following school year. Their regular classes, as prescribed by the state’s common standards, will of course not be affected.

One of the schools participating in the program will be Hoover High School in San Diego, which will house the Sustainable Academy of Building and Engineering (SABE).  Roughly 245 students will participate in SABE.  They will see their curriculum relate to the construction industry, but they will still be prepared for other ventures if they decide to attempt unrelated academic endeavors following completion.  

“We still have the responsibility to make sure all students are college and career ready and we don’t pigeonhole them into a ‘track,’” SABE Director Angie Hummel told EdSource.

For Hummel, participation in CPAs is crucial for students in underperforming school districts who wish to further their education:

Academies are “the cutting edge of educational reform,” Hummel said. “We’re really connecting students to their community and to working for their community. It changes that level of motivation they get and adds a level of authenticity and relevancy (to their education). The career technical education model is reforming what we do, and it’s changing what we can do in other content areas like English, history, math and science.”

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