By Miriam Raftery
June 6, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – A $1.2 million grant awarded by the national nonprofit American Student Assistance (ASA) will fund participation in the World of Work (WoW) program for over 33,000 students at 38 local schools in the La Mesa-Spring Valley (LMSV), Vista Unified and Grossmont Union High School (GUHSD) districts.
The program was developed by the Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) in partnership with the University of San Diego to provide K-12 students to explore career options and identify their individuals strengths and interests. The program has rolled out in 27 schools in the past two years, been written up in national publications such as Forbes business magazine, and most recently drew attention in meetings with U.S. Department of Education representatives (photo left) and a presentation at the Brookings Institute.
At the May 28 CVUSD board meeting, a slideshow titled “The Fading American Dream” (photo, right) shows the plummet in the number of children earning more than their parents. Superintendent Dr. David Miyashiro believes that there is a need to “measure education through employment,” instead of relying solely on metrics such as math and English test scores.
The CVUSD district has a high percentage of low-income and English as a second language students, with 8 of 27 district schools identified by the state as needed improvements in Math, English and college readiness. But Miyashiro sees career training as a way to lift low-income students out of poverty, instead of focusing solely on college readiness.
Students in the World of Work program get mentoring from at least one professional in each of several categories of personality traits, and also get hands-on experience in a variety of careers, some requiring college degrees, and others that don't:
Realistic (examples: police officer, firefighter, mechanic)
Investigative (examples: geographer, hydrologist, climate change analyst)
Artistic (examples: musician, artist, reporter)
Social (examples: teacher, nurse, fitness trainer)
Enterprising (examples: chef, real estate agent, cosmetologist)
Conventional (examples: paralegal, financial analyst, software developer)
With 7 million unemployed Americans and millennial unemployment double the national average, the program aims to help students learn about jobs available in the work force and what those careers entail.
Jean Eddy, president and CEO of ASA, says “WoW is well-aligned with ASA’s commitment to helping students explore career options early in their education journey so they can find their paths for their futures. We’re delighted to help scale the World of Work initiative in southern California to prepare young people for the important choices they will make after high school.:
Superintendent Miyashiro (photo, left) says, “We’ve seen a significant increase in student self-awareness and articulation of possible future selves in relation to career aspirations. This scale-up and research partnership is how we can reverse the trends of $1.5 trillion in student loan debt and the more than 50 percent college dropout rate.”
GUHSD Superintendent David Glover says the partnership with ASA through the WoW program will build on 50 years of career technical education in the district to “assist our students to make better informed decisions about their college and career pursuits.”
David Feliciano, superintendent at LMSV, says “We are very excited to partner with ASA and the WoW community in a commitment to more clearly aim the academic journey toward a fulfilling life and career.”
ASA has been working for 60 years to increase students’ aces to higher education through loans and financial education, and aims to provide “impactful solutions for kids in middle, high school, and beyond to help them pursue their dreams,” according to a press release issued by ASA on the grants.