California state Senate leader makes sweeping education proposals

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File photo: California State Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) speaks with reporters before going into caucus to discuss the vote on a solution to the state's budget problem July 23, 2009 in Sacramento, California.

The president of the California State Senate has proposed reforms to improve the way the state prepares young people for jobs and careers.

Democrat State Senator Darrell Steinberg said that by and large, California public high schools do a poor job preparing graduates for jobs and college. Graduates say so, Steinberg said, and 100,000 California dropouts every year underscore the problem.

One bill he’s introduced would de-emphasize standardized tests as the only measure of high school success and establish a college and career readiness index. Steinberg also wants to work with the University of California to expand the list of required courses for college admission.

He suggested that school districts could design homebuilding lessons to fulfill college-prep geometry requirements and offer students practical job skills. Another bill would promote training teachers to devise more engaging lessons that could prepare students for jobs in the biotech, health care and digital arts industries.

A university study predicts nearly 50 million new jobs nationwide in the next seven years. Unless California improves its schools, Steinberg said, its college graduates won’t have resumes good enough to land their first interviews.

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