Mayor Richard M. Daley joined Chicago Public Schools officials on the first day of classes of the new year to announce a comprehensive re-structuring of the CPS Career and Technical Education programs that will reorganize 250 non-standardized career programs into 80 “College and Career Academies” at 35 high schools over the next seven years.
The first 30 College and Career Academies will open in 11 high schools in fall, 2010.
“In the competition for the jobs of tomorrow, which are key to Chicago's future, nothing is more important than continuing to improve each and every school in our city,” Daley said in a news conference held at Harlan Community Academy High School, 9652 S. Michigan Av., the location of one of the new academies.
“In today's economy, it is essential that we graduate students with the skills they need to go directly into a good job and a long term career,” he said.
A recent forecast by the National Skills Alliance says that by 2014, 45 percent of American jobs will be in what are called “middle skill” occupations – jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree.
Daley said that for years, CPS has offered career and technical education, but the program needs to be strengthened and improved. One of the biggest shortcomings has been that most students haven’t been able to access programs outside of their neighborhood.
Some months ago, CPS began working to create a Career and Technical Education program that will teach students the skills they need to compete for jobs and will take a big step toward securing the economic future of Chicago.
Labor market analysis was used to determine priority industries for the new academies with the goal of preparing students for work in a changing economy. The new academies will focus resources and teaching staff to provide a rigorous curriculum based on industry standards, improved certification opportunities and more work-based experiences for students.
And for the first time, a citywide application process will allow students to access career programs outside of their own neighborhoods.
"Our goal is to provide students with a jump-start to success in their chosen career. To do that we need to provide classes, internships and a clear career path that will help them gain the skills they need to compete in the global job market," said Ron Huberman, CPS chief executive officer.
The new career programs will be standardized to provide a clear path from coursework to workforce. In addition, all teachers will now be required to have certification and must have worked as professionals within their field of expertise.
By concentrating staff at fewer sites, students will have access to more teachers and classes to help them gain critical industry skills.
Students also will gain real-world experience through internships, job shadows and summer employment. Next year, CPS expects to grow the total number of internships offered from 1,000 to 1,200.
CPS has partnered with the Chicago Workforce Investment Council to develop new opportunities for students to work with Chicago-area businesses. Another partner, the Chicago Building Trades Council, is offering students access to 30 construction site visits, 100 job shadow opportunities, 100 spring break internships and 100 summer jobs.
National research shows that students within career and technical education programs have higher graduation rates, higher enrollment rates in postsecondary education and higher employment rates/earnings compared to the average high school graduate.
College and Career Academies will be housed in the following 11 high schools beginning in fall 2010: Schurz, Sullivan, Harper, Fenger, Harlan, Washington, Manley, Crane, Wells, Dunbar and Orr. Applications are being accepted through January 20, 2010.
CPS has begun the process of building state of the art facilities at the College and Career Academy sites by renovating career labs, kitchens and facilities at five of the locations. The remaining locations will undergo renovations during the summer.
Career and Technical Education programs include: Culinary & Hospitality, Business, Medical & Health, Transportation, Construction & Architecture, Pre-engineering, Teaching, Early Childhood Education, Cosmetology, Law and Public Safety, Information Technology, Agriculture, Manufacturing, and Audio/Visual Technology and Communications.
Career and Technical Education programs are not a substitute for the CPS core curriculum. All students are required to complete the CPS curriculum requirements in addition to courses within their chosen career program.
Daley also said that the dawn of each New Year -- and especially each decade -- offers Chicagoans an opportunity to renew their commitment to improve the city and keep it moving forward.
He said that over the next few days and weeks, he will announce new steps that will move Chicago's schools to the next level, including continuing efforts to reduce violence against young people.
In addition, he reiterated the actions the City is already taking to stimulate the economy and improve the quality of life for residents. They include: