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Superintendent of Oakland Unified School Districts Tony Smith wants Oakland K-12 schools to be the primary workforce preparation organization in the city.
What does that mean?
A lot of it has to do with Linked Learning. In 2010, Oakland was one of ten districts to receive grants from ConnectEd and the California Center for College and Career, to utilize Linked Learning — an educational approach that creates partnerships between schools and industry leaders, putting the focus on real-world experience.
Youth Radio caught up with Smith after he gave the keynote speech at an event in Oakland. “We need to prepare young people to be ready for the world of work, to be ongoing learners, to get credentialing if necessary, to move through college, career — but really to understand that learning is the path, career is the goal,” said Smith.
Smith wants to have 80 percent of OUSD kids in a Linked Learning pathway within the next few years. “We need to make sure that kids are prepared to work. It is not healthy for a city to have high unemployment and to have young people not graduating from high school. We think that the more kids that are connected to the world of work, and see a purpose for learning, they’re going to stay in, graduate, and then engage in thoughtful and meaningful work,” he said.