Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year! I hope your summer was memorable.
During the summer, I had the honor of speaking to a national audience of nearly 2,000 educators from all 50 states at an educational conference in San Francisco. I shared the stage with Art Bilger, a billionaire philanthropist and founder of a non-profit called “Working Nation.” Art, along with a more famous billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is traversing the country warning our leaders that America is headed for some difficult times due to the rapid development of globalization (loss of manufacturing jobs) and unfettered growth of artificial intelligence, which will lead to more massive job losses. These folks are predicting another Great Depression in 10 to 15 years, unless education can make a rapid shift in priorities.
Out of thousands of districts across the nation, AUHSD has been identified as a district that is making the shift. And just what is that shift? Art’s website Working Nation compares the shift to the old story about teaching a person how to fish, but with a twist: If you give a person a fish, he eats for a day; if you teach him how to fish, he eats for a lifetime; but if you teach a person how to LEARN, he not only eats for a lifetime but doesn’t have to eat fish everyday.
At AUHSD, we are attempting to teach students how to learn with passion and purpose. We have moved away from teaching to a standardized test or teaching to a certain benchmark to teaching students how to learn through the development of the 5Cs–communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and character (compassion). These are what experts have identified as essential job and life skills necessary to navigate a rapidly evolving world.
Thousands of parents have seen the 5Cs in action in the classrooms through Parent Learning Walks now happening at all sites. Teachers are observing their peers, collaborating and learning from each other. Students are participating in “capstone” processes whereby they reflect on their “21st Century Learning” at three high schools, Savanna, Katella, and Western. All other high schools are in the process of developing senior capstone events.
Students are finding their passion through becoming civically engaged in topics important to them, such as human trafficking, short-term rental housing, or nutrition and mental health.
AUHSD is also at the forefront of promoting job readiness through our business and non-profit mentoring program called AIME (Anaheim’s Innovative Mentoring Experience) whereby over 1,200 high school students have been exposed to the world of work during the school year. This past summer, 130 incoming seniors were selected for the AIME summer internships, where they received an internship scholarship, bus passes to get to work, and college credit from Fullerton College.
Sergio Contreras, education director of Orange County United Way, said, “The district is way out in front in creating job opportunities and cultivating essential skills for life readiness.”
All of these initiatives are being memorialized in an unprecedented agreement among our college partners called the “Anaheim Union Educational Pledge.” This agreement, which will be made official in September, will include UCI, Cal State Fullerton, North Orange County Community College District (Fullerton and Cypress colleges), the city of Anaheim, and AUHSD. Each institution is pledging support for every AUHSD student to help ensure their success at every level of their education and into the job market. No other district can offer, for example, guaranteed admission to UCI if you graduate from AUHSD, attend either Fullerton or Cypress colleges, and meet minimal UC requirements for non-impacted majors. CSUF is offering mentoring opportunities to all undeclared majors from AUHSD. And the local community colleges are offering more dual credit opportunities for high school students. Finally, the city of Anaheim is ensuring continued support in developing AIME opportunities with business and non-profit partners.
The Anaheim Pledge will raise the bar very high in what we offer to our students, their families, and the future of our community. I have faith that, together, we will reach new heights as we continue our journey from good to great.
On behalf of our Board of Trustees, thank you for your continued support and contributions to AUHSD.
This article was released by the Anaheim Union High School District.