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Davis, California

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Bill passed to fund green-tech at high school level

A California Senate bill to lower high school dropout rates now awaits a signature from Gov. Jerry Brown. Senate Bill X1 1 passed through the senate with a 21-to-14 vote. The goal of the bill is to give $8 million to California partnership academies to improve their programs in green-tech.

“This small investment will create 90 high school academies that we estimate over five years will serve 1,500 California students,” said Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), while giving a speech to promote the bill.

Partnership academies are schools that pair up with businesses to give hands-on instruction, which can be used to earn students a high-wage job or to prepare for college. The schools often draw in at-risk youth and high school dropouts, as they offer a more direct connection between students’ curriculum and their real-world application.

“Partnership academies run effectively and provide opportunities for at-risk youth to practice the technical and interpersonal skills they need to move up the social and economic ladder,” said Glenn Singley, an aviation coordinator at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento, in an e-mail.

The bill is set to fund schools that train students to work in environmentally friendly “green” job fields. These schools teach things such as how to install solar panels, how to construct wind turbines and do research in energy conservation.

However, Singley said he is concerned that the bill may not have a wide-enough reach and that limiting the bill to helping “green” schools will hinder it.

“It depends on how many students in the state see ‘green’ jobs as something they find interesting,” he said. “Programs definitely need to be set up to expose more of our elementary and middle school students to career possibilities in the technology sector.”

Singley said he is also worried that the bill will simply not be enough to fund the needs it is attempting to meet.

“It is also important to remember that we cannot look at our high schools as isolated from middle schools or colleges and universities,” he said. “It is a good start, but a program cannot just be funded to work, the program has to be structured for the students and for the teachers who run them.”

Funding for the bill would be taken from the Renewable Resource Trust Fund, through the California Energy Commission. It would then be allocated by the superintendent of public instruction as grants.

Some high school faculty members are concerned that while the grants will help, the money may not be best allocated to partnership academies. Gema Godina, assistant principal at C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento, was one such party.

“If these monies are at the expense of public school funding, then, no, not in favor,” Godina said. “Our school currently offers many sections of AP Chemistry and other science classes, yet we are currently faced with potentially having to cut them.”

Nonetheless, Godina said the funding of green programs could be helpful.

“Partnership academies are effective … as long as they are funded. My fear is that schools get three-year grants … and then the funding is cut and then that effective program is gone.”

AARON WEISS can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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