Thursday, December 2, 2010

Brake, others praise Community Campus

By Beth Wilberding, Messenger-Inquirer

Published: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 12:12 AM CST

About half of the jobs the country will need in 2015 have yet to be created -- but students are still being prepared for 20th century jobs that increasingly do not exist, according to Nick Brake.

The president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. discussed the need for a change in how students are educated at a news conference on the Community Campus program Monday in the Advanced Technology Center at Owensboro Community & Technical College.

The Community Campus is a partnership of several area school districts, the University of Kentucky, Western Kentucky University, OCTC, the EDC and several private sector entities.

Many in-demand skills can be part of a curriculum that blends the last two years of high school with the first two years of postsecondary education at a community or technical college, Brake told the group.

"The high school is now the front line in America's and Owensboro's battle to remain competitive on the international economic stage," Brake said.

A highly skilled work force is needed for the community to survive, Brake said. "We don't need to compete locally," he said. "We need to compete globally."

Community Campus is part of The Partnership for Next Generation Learning, a national initiative to rethink education.

The Stupski Foundation partnered with the Council of Chief State School Officers to create The Partnership for Next Generation Learning with the goal of transforming and improving public education, the Messenger-Inquirer previously reported.

The partnership created the Innovation Lab Network in six states: Wisconsin, Maine, New York, West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. The Stupski Foundation has secured the financial support of several major corporations, including Microsoft, Cisco, Intel and Apple, the Messenger-Inquirer reported.

Daviess County Public Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton said during the news conference that Community Campus is one of the most exciting things he's seen in education. "We have all of the resources behind us to make this successful," he said.

Five academies will be featured through Community Campus: Theatre Arts; Science, Technology and Engineering; Entrepreneurship and Business; Construction, Trade and Energy and Life Sciences.

"They would compliment each institution while creating alternatives for students to better meet their needs and the needs of our region," Brake said.

The Theatre Arts; Construction, Trade and Energy; and Science, Technology and Engineering academies are scheduled to begin in the 2011-12 school year, according to Community Campus' website. The Life Sciences and Entrepreneurship and Business academies will begin in the 2012 school year.

The program is open to high school juniors and seniors in Owensboro Public Schools, Daviess County Public Schools, Owensboro Catholic Schools, Hancock County Schools and Trinity High School in Whitesville.

Students will continue to take some classes at and be involved in extracurricular activities at their "home" high schools.

All of the academies will use OCTC's Discover College program, which offers dual high school and college credit, Brake said. He said it is important for students to receive at least some postsecondary education.

Forty-two percent of the adult work force in the Owensboro area has some form of postsecondary education, which is 21 percent behind the national average and 12 percentage points below the projections for Kentucky in 2018, Brake said, citing a study by Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown University.

Based on those projections, the Owensboro region will have to increase its population with postsecondary education by 8,000 to meet the state projections and 15,000 to meet the national projections, Brake said.

Hancock County Schools Superintendent Scott Lewis said he hopes the program will help some of his county's students be better prepared to work at local industries.

Owensboro Public Schools Superintendent Larry Vick said Community Campus will give students opportunities that the schools can't provide individually.

To learn more about the Community Campus, visit