The Oakland School Board recently approved a resolution that will place a parcel tax on the November ballot for the purpose of expanding opportunities for Linked Learning in Oakland middle and high schools.
Linked learning is a method of integrating classroom curriculum with real-world opportunities for students to apply their new knowledge through internships and work opportunities. The research on linked learning demonstrates that opportunities for both in-class and out-of-class learning can increase student engagement and help make the curriculum more salient for students. Linked learning also boosts graduation rates, college enrollment rates and can also increase earning potential.
The specific goals of the tax are to increase access to college prep classes, to provide work-based learning in every high school, to increase supports to students in danger of dropping out, such as counseling, tutoring, and mentoring, and to help students through their transition to high school and college.
What is especially exciting for me is that linked learning fills a critical gap that currently exists in helping students to navigate and transition to the world of work. Even students who do everything right struggle to figure out how to get to where they want to be in their careers. If you do well in high school, you can go to college, but then what? How do you translate a degree into a career? What are your options if you don't want to go to college?
Linked learning can help students to build relationships with professionals who will ideally become mentors and help them to navigate these tricky questions. Through having hands-on work experience, students will also learn what, specifically, they do and do not like doing within their chosen field. And they learn about the norms of the workplace, which are different from high school and college, and do take some experience to learn, and are essential to learn to be successful in the work world.
In my own case, my first internship was in college, and I interned with an Alameda County program. Both of my parents are public sector workers, but I realized pretty quickly that the public sector was not the right fit for me. I have enjoyed my career in the non-profit sector, however it was largely unpaid, rather than paid, work that helped me discover my passion for leadership development.
My first real job also afforded me the opportunity to work with two managers who have continued to be great mentors and friends, long after I stopped working for them. These relationships have been critical to helping me navigate my career choices.
There is no handbook for young people to figure out how to build a successful career. What I know is that it takes a variety of experiences for people to figure out what interests them, and strong relationships to establish a successful career. Investing in linked learning is an investment in both of these important things, and will help make this difficult transition a little easier for Oakland's students.
Yes on the College and Career Readiness for All Act!