schools in Saint Paul and Apple Valley are among the winners of the Obama
administration's latest national grant competition -- an effort to boost career
and college preparation.
Paul won $3.7 million in the competition, and the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan
district lined up $3 million. They were among 24 districts to score grants
Monday in the Youth CareerConnect contest, a joint effort by the federal
Education and Labor departments. A total $107 million in grants will go to high
schools to cultivate more college-credit opportunities, career exploration
programs, internships and hands-on activities.
contest called on districts to team up with local higher education institutions
and employers to provide more opportunities for students to build real-world
Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said the grants would help prepare
"the next generation of highly skilled workers in Minnesota."
am proud that two of our state's school districts were selected by President
Obama and the U.S. Department of Labor to spearhead this national movement to
strengthen career preparation for our youth," Cassellius said in a
Obama administration has employed such national grant competitions to nudge
states and districts to embrace federal priorities, from teacher evaluation to
early childhood education. But such contests have angered some educators who
say they pit school districts and states against each other.
latest grant competition is a reflection of a recent national focus on career
and technical education amid concerns about the country's global
competitiveness. The grant money comes from fees U.S. companies pay to line up
visas for foreign workers in specialized jobs.
Valley High School will use the grant to complete a transformation as the go-to
school for students from the district's magnet programs focused on science,
technology, engineering and math, or STEM.
fall, the school will offer more classes in those fields, including some on
weekends, online and as an independent study. Faculty from Dakota County
Technical College and Inver Hills Community College will teach some of the
school also would host a new fabrication lab with three-dimensional printers,
laser cutters and other technology.
half-dozen companies have signed up to be part of the initiative at the school,
including Delta Airlines and Lockheed Martin. They will offer input into school
programs, internships and mentoring to students.
really exciting about this grant is that we have so many partners," said
Cathy Kindem, the district's coordinator of innovative educational programs.
"They'll be playing a vital role in helping us integrate real-world skills
and experiences in the classroom."
said a goal of the Apple Valley High overhaul will be to attract more students
of color, English learners, girls and first-generation college students --
groups traditionally underrepresented in those fields.
Saint Paul district will use the money to launch a new Academy of Information
Technology at Humboldt Senior High School. It also will help expand the
recently created Academy of Finance at Como Park High, which features a
student-run credit union branch.
both districts, the effort will continue to support participating students into
their first two years of college. Saint Paul will tap its existing partnerships
with Saint Paul College, employers such as Travelers Insurance and Wells Fargo
Bank and other organizations.
Koumpilova can be reached at 651-228-2171. Follow her at twitter.com/MilaPiPress.