Governor Markell today announced $600,000 in grants for new high school pathway programs to expand a statewide effort that prepares students to excel in key fields that offer good job opportunities in the new economy.
Beginning next fall, the Governor’s Pathways to Prosperity initiative will serve more than 5,000 students in at least 55 pathway programs at 29 high schools. That more than doubles the size of the initiative from this fall, when it launched with 25 pathways in 15 high schools across the state, impacting more than 2400 students. For this second round of grants, the state has added pathways in computer networking, finance, and health care. Those are in addition to pathways in biomedical sciences, engineering, hospitality/culinary arts, IT/computer science, and manufacturing.
The Governor previously announced $500,000 in grants for pathways that started this fall. Moving forward, the state plans to provide districts the chance each September to apply for funds to start new pathways in emerging industry sectors.
“I applaud the district administrators, teachers, higher education leaders, and employers who have made it a top priority to provide these opportunities to our students,” said Markell. “They have allowed this initiative to expand at an incredible rate, recognizing that these opportunities are vital to give all of our young people the best chance to reach their potential. Working together, we will ensure every student can not only participate but thrive in the job market into which they will graduate.”
Grant funds are used by school districts to implement career and technical education programs of study as part of a larger state effort to connect our public education system, post-secondary institutions, and our employer community. Students take hundreds of hours of specialized instruction and hands-on training, receiving the opportunity to graduate with work experience and college credit for courses that are most relevant to those industries. That means they can have a head start on getting a job and earning a degree.
Each program was developed in partnership with Delaware employers and institutions of higher education. The Department of Education is providing curriculum support for each pathway as well as training for teachers to successfully implement the coursework. In addition, the Department is working on agreements with Delaware colleges and universities to ensure that students who complete a program will be eligible for college credit at one or more institutions of higher education in the state.
The just-announced $600,000 includes some funds to help expand programs already underway this fall.
“This program epitomizes the collaboration among teachers, administrators, and the larger education community that is necessary to best support our students,” said Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky. “The Department of Education continues to be committed to partnering with our school leaders and offering our school systems the support they need to effectively implement the rigorous career and technical programs that are a key part of ensuring all students find success after high school.”
Districts use funding in a variety of ways to support students and staff, and to provide the services and materials required to offer courses and hands-on training opportunities.
“Today’s jobs simply do not look like those of decades past, which are increasingly outsourced to other countries or handled by machines,” said Markell. “However, incredible opportunities exist for those who can use that technology and for those whose abilities fit with the changing needs of growing industries. It’s our responsibility to ensure there are pathways to learning the skills for those jobs.”
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.