Hillsborough schools getting it right by changing with the times

While the district is frequently in the news for what goes wrong at its schools, the district deserves kudos for its efforts to prepare our students for the global economy — particularly as it relates to new technology.

Students in 27 of the county’s 44 high schools are now offered the opportunity to earn certificates. Those certificates show a student’s proficiency in programs such as Photoshop or Excel. Certificates are offered for Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Microsoft, Quickbooks and the COMPTIA A+ products. Last year 3,040 information technology-related industry certifications were awarded to Hillsborough students.

By Chris Ingram

Hillsborough County residents pay more in taxes to fund the county’s school system, which has a budget of $2.8 billion, than they do to run every other department or agency in the county combined.

The Hillsborough school system is the largest employer in the county, with more than 25,000 employees, of which nearly 16,000 are teachers. The system is the third largest in Florida and the ninth largest in the country with over 202,000 students (for comparison, the city of Tampa has about 350,000 residents).

Of those students, nearly 60 percent are eligible for free and reduced lunches. At last count, there were 168 languages spoken by students attending the county’s schools, which has a graduation rate of 82 percent.

The challenges of the Hillsborough school district are immense. The number of students, and the diversity of the population, adds to the enormity of those challenges.

While the district is frequently in the news for what goes wrong at its schools, the district deserves kudos for its efforts to prepare our students for the global economy — particularly as it relates to new technology.

Students in 27 of the county’s 44 high schools are now offered the opportunity to earn certificates. Those certificates show a student’s proficiency in programs such as Photoshop or Excel. Certificates are offered for Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Microsoft, Quickbooks and the COMPTIA A+ products. Last year 3,040 information technology-related industry certifications were awarded to Hillsborough students.

Not related to IT, the school system also offers certificates in auto mechanics, nursing and culinary arts, among others. According to Superintendent MaryEllen Elia, students must take an exam to earn a certificate. She says students with certificates “… are more marketable to employers as having the skills needed by that industry.”

In a few select schools, the school system is now offering (Click here to read the full column in today’s Tampa Tribune)

Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of Irreverent View. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online. He is the Republican political analyst for Bay News 9, the only 24 hour all news channel in Florida’s largest media market. The opinions expressed here are those of author and do not represent the views of Bay News 9. E-mail him atChris@IrreverentView.com.

Please feel free to submit a comment on our blogs. By posting a comment you acknowledge reading and following the terms and conditions of posting found here. You may also submit a comment by e-mail. If you e-mail a comment you consent to your comment and name being posted on the Irreverent View website. If you wish to remain completely anonymous, please state so in your e-mail.

 

 

One thought on “Hillsborough schools getting it right by changing with the times”

  1. The Legislature made a start when it established a three tiered high school diploma. This action unfortunately, will fall well short of plugging the dropout pipeline.

    In essence, we are still featuring a college preparatory secondary system. In fact, the $200 million Gates Foundation project (covering everything from public relations to teacher evaluation) emphatically states the goal of ALL students being college-ready – their emphasis, not mine. Striving to prepare each and every student for college is neither desirable nor possible. It is damaging.

    Not everyone goes to college. Not all jobs are STEM. Not all students will find themselves competing in a global sense. There are honorable places in our society for bricklayers, cooks, carpenters and bus drivers. These are neither STEM jobs nor employment that will be outsourced to Asia. Many of the students destined to dropout, could be trained for these jobs; giving them a chance at independent financial security. We currently have little training for them; nor has the Legislature established a path that allows school districts to avoid the perverse incentive of “graduation rates”.

    Bowers-Whitley Career Center, in the University area, is our showcase vocational school. To qualify for placement, a student must be at least one year behind his age cohort and have no serious discipline history. Hummm. A held-back student with discipline issues does not qualify for employment training; rather, they are kept in the college preparatory curriculum. It is obvious we have not truly thought out the various paths available to ALL of our students.

    The Legislature needs to recognize the facts. All honest employment is to be respected. Mr. Ingram’s last question needs to be addressed. These kids cannot be forced to complete Algebra and pass their end of course exams (the new FCAT). However, if we pull our heads out of the rabbit hole, we can take many of these kids and mold productive citizens. They may not become nuclear engineers, but they can provide for themselves and a family – with self-respect.

    Michael Weston. Candidate for Hillsborough County School Board District 2.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s