On April 7, US President Barack Obama announced 24 grants of more than $100 million to schools and "partner institutions" that would be used to redesign high schools and "to prepare school districts to create career academies and early college high schools" that will focus on teaching students skills needed to connect with the high demand for jobs in healthcare communities, technological companies, engineering jobs and others high-demand industries as part of the Youth Career Connect Grant.
"We've got to make sure that our economy works for everybody, not just a few," Obama told a crowd at Bladensburg High School – one of three schools in Prince George's County, Maryland., that will share $7 million. "We've got to make sure opportunity exists for all people."
Because of a $7 million grant received by the Los Angeles Unified School District, LA plans to build career academies which will train students in the areas of biotechnology, health care, and other job fields which are in desperate need of qualified applicants.
New York City is another recipient of a $7 million grant to create two early college high schools which will offer the opportunity for students to earn an associate degree while still in their high school setting. Other cities included in the awarding of grants were local education agencies in Denver, Indianapolis, and Clinton, South Carolina. Also, the non-profit Jobs for the Future in Massachusetts, received a portion of the grant award.
Concerned about job training and students' ability to attain an education, the president appointed Vice President Joe Biden to tackle the issue. On Monday, while speaking to the American Association of Community Colleges at its annual convention, Biden announced the creation of a new program, Registered Apprenticeship-College Consortium (RACC). The new organization will be run by the Departments of Labor and Education, and will enable students to earn college credits while apprenticing. Instead of not going to college because of the tuition costs; or having to find work for which they are not qualified, Biden says they can "earn while they learn".
Under the auspices of Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), a bill will be introduced that would update the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, reported Michael Gagne for the Herald News. This bill has not been reauthorized since 2006.
Kennedy said the Perkins Modernization Act of 2014, if passed, would strengthen and support career/technical education programs by using local workforce data to ensure that those programs are aligned to the needs of employers in local labor markets.
Kennedy said the bill already has bipartisan support, with Illinois Republicans Adam Kinzinger and Rodney Davis and Colorado Democrat Jared Polis co-sponsoring it.
An editorial in the Gaston Gazette points out that there is no "magic pill" that will improve the nation's high schools overnight. The editorial suggests that funding and research will improve our high schools and will pave the way for helping all our high school students.