Re-imagining High School for the 21st Century

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In his 2015 State of the Union address President Obama called for a national effort to create more so-called “Next Generation” high schools. To that end, the White House last week announced an allotment of $375 million towards various projects to redesign secondary education in the United States.
 
The president's broad vision is based on re-inventing the high school experience by incorporating more personalized learning, work-based learning experiences, and deeper ties to higher education. The president is also urging expanded science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities for girls and other students underrepresented in growing fields that offer strong career paths.
 
Click here for press coverage of the president's announcement.
 
The summit comes on the heels of recent reports that U.S. high school dropouts have fallen by 250,000 since 2008 and that graduation rates have hit an all-time high. But many at the summit said that the dropout rate is still far too high and to retain this unengaged community a re-imagining of secondary schools is in order.
 
Commitments put forward by the White House at the event included an additional $20 million for Investing in Innovation (i3) grants through the federal education department. Charitable trusts, philanthropic foundations, and private sector businesses in attendance also announced several proposals to “scale up” efforts to transform secondary education. Among them were a $620 million investment in an “expanded learning” middle school initiative to boost high school readiness for 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade students.
 
Career & Technical Education (CTE) incentives were also addressed at the summit, including the the Obama Administration's EdSim Challenge that is set to launch in 2016. The effort is designed to prompt developers of cutting edge games, 3-D simulations, and virtual reality experiences to create the next generation of platform simulations for use in CTE.
 
Click here to share feedback on the EdSim Challenge with the U.S. education department.
 
"The president's continued commitment to CTE is both significant and encouraging," said Hochadel (pictured above, right, with UFT Vice President for Academic High Schools Janella Hinds and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith). "CTE programs have the potential to prepare a new generation of students with the skills needed for an ever-changing global job market. Going forward, we need additional focus on aligning high schools with community colleges and other higher education institutions, both by the current and the next administration in the White House," added Hochadel, who previously taught physics and science in the Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS).
 
Click here for our previous report on AFT Connecticut's advocacy for quality CTE.