WHAT IS Workforce 2000?
The Kern Workforce 2000 Academy
is a charter school within the Kern High School District. It serves students who have otherwise had limited success in school. Many who are out of school by virtue of previous choice and circumstance will now choose to complete their education and acquire necessary preparation for the competitive world in which we live.
Without endorsing the choices these young people have made in the past, it behooves us to invite them to make right choices for a future that we share with them. Those who may benefit from this school include:
- Out of school single high school parents
- Dropouts, particularly those who have dropped out of school for economic reasons.
(i.e. to assist in supporting their family)
- Students who, due to situation, benefit from attending school in the evening.
- Students who want to earn a high school diploma.
The philosophy of the Kern Workforce 2000 Academy (WF2K) is best described by Carl D. Glickman in Renewing American Schools
; any successful organization has a set of core beliefs, a covenant that holds its members together and gives them common direction. Taking this insight one step further, if a school is to be successful, it must have a covenant relationship to the community as a whole.
It must be a means by which the community and its youth reach out to a commonly desired future. At the heart of WF2K is the belief that this community wants all of its youth to succeed and wants to assist them in gaining the skills needed for success in an increasingly competitive world. Along side this faith in our community is a corresponding faith in our youth. This charter is based on the belief that, given the opportunity, many who are out of school by virtue of previous choice and circumstance will now choose to complete their education and acquire necessary preparation for the competitive world which we live in. WF2K is a means by which the Kern High School District, the community which it serves, and the youth within this community can affirm a basic commitment to each other.
The goal of WF2K is to recover, retain, serve, and graduate high risk out-of school high school age youth using current facilities, particularly at off-peak hours. In an increasingly demanding job market, non-high school graduates are more and more limited and their ability to contribute to a prosperous future for us all is correspondingly constrained. WF2K will have as its charge reaching out to at risk and out-of-school youth between the ages of 14 and 19 and offering them opportunities to continue to move towards a learning-enabled, technologically literate future.
There are a number of significant groups represented among those at-risk and/or out-of-school. Many of those who would clearly benefit from the WF2K effort fall into one or more of the following categories:
- Out-of-school single mothers. Kern County has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in California.
- Those who have dropped out for economic reasons, particularly those who are working illegally prior to their eighteenth birthday. High poverty and unemployment rates in the Kern High School District service area place economic strains on families which may result in students leaving school.
- English Language Learners (ELL) students are clearly included in each of the above groups. WF2K will make special efforts to ensure that the needs of those students are addressed in its retention and recovery efforts
- A large number of families in our attendance area have chosen to home school their children; a significant number of these parents often lack the academic expertise necessary to teach high school subject matter.
WORKFORCE ACADEMY UNDERSTANDS
Many circumstances make it difficult or impossible for these students to continue their formal education. Daycare, which would allow a young mother to stay in school full-time, is beyond the reach of most of these young women. The work hours of those who have dropped out of school for economic reasons, are rarely synchronized with school hours. The state education code virtually forces schools to exclude those students who can not attend full-time.
Traditional schools typically require a minimum of 240 minutes/day of attendance from students. Independent study, in which students do a full week’s worth of work at home, and come in for an hour each week to review with an instructor, demands a level of study skills and self-discipline, that many young people do not yet possess.
A DIFFERENT APPROACH
Adult education is organized in a fashion which is far more in-tune with the living situation of many of these students. As a society, we recognize that adults may or may not be able to attend school full time and that some adults will finish their education more quickly than others. Unfortunately, we have had to tell many out-of-school youth who find themselves in adult situations, that they must put their education ‘on-hold’ until they turn 18 and can be accommodated by adult education.
WF2K is intended to recover and serve out-of-school youth and to provide a safety net for those who are at risk of dropping out of school. WF2K shall not operate in such a way as to impair the functioning of existing Kern High School District programs and schools.
WF2K classes will offer an educational program leading to a high school diploma. The program will allow young mothers to attend at times when they might be able to draw upon their families and friends for daycare. Extending this opportunity will challenge the families, the friends, and the communities of young out-of-school mothers to provide the childcare needed for these students to continue their education. Late afternoon and evening classes will be offered four days per week and some Saturdays.
These classes will be offered along the lines of the current adult school model, a model with broad acceptance in the community. Each class will be a minimum of 180 minutes in length requiring students to enroll in two classes for a total of 360 minutes per day four days per week. While not every class will be open entry, the program will be run on an open entry basis with regular entry points and with the individual student’s enrollment date taken as the start of his or her attendance/apportionment year
WF2K’s PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING
WF2K will use established methods of instructions currently in use by the district’s traditional high schools, continuation schools, and Bakersfield Adult School.
The staff will also work on honing these approaches and infusing technology into them along the lines of the following principles:
- Learning should be an active process that demands full student participation and pedagogically valid work. Students need to make choices, accept responsibility, and become self-directed.
- Learning should be goal-oriented and connected to the real world, so that students understand the applications of what they learn in school to their outside lives and communities.
- Learning should be measurable, diagnostic, and reflective; providing continuous feedback to students and parents. It should encourage students and train them in self-evaluation. Assessments should be used as a tool to develop better teaching and learning strategies.
- More students than ever before need to be educated to higher levels so that they can compete successfully in the increasingly technological job market and participate in our democratic system. Schools must prepare students who know how to gather, organize, and analyze information and then apply it to solving a problem. Industry expects graduates who can work collaboratively with others in this arena.