Giving Compass' Take:

• Newark schools are implementing career education programs through partnerships with Montclair State University and the American Federation of Teachers, but there are still some challenges that school districts must face before the programs can start. 

• What makes a career education program successful? 

• Read more about the importance of career and technical education. 

After a decades-long decline, Newark’s traditional high schools are plotting a comeback.

The district will unveil a new program at East Side High School to prepare students for teaching careers through a partnership with Montclair State University and the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers union. Later, the district is expected to announce similar career-themed “academies” at the five other traditional high schools backed by partnerships with hospitals, universities, and even the tech-giant Google.

Despite their proud histories and pockets of excellence, the district’s traditional, or “comprehensive,” high schools suffer today from low test scores and graduation rates, high levels of absenteeism, and discipline problems. Many high-achieving students shun them, opting instead to compete for spots in the district’s selective “magnet” schools or high schools run by Essex County or charter school networks — a trend that has made it all the harder for some traditional schools to bounce back.

Superintendent Roger León wants to end that cycle by generating a new buzz around the traditional schools. To do that, he’s urging a rapid reboot of career academies, which previously existed in each high school but have languished in recent years.

Newark’s return to vocational training reflects a national trend as school districts increasingly focus on preparing students for careers, not just college, and businesses clamor for employees with specialized skill sets.

The goal is for students to graduate with industry credentials that will help them find well-paying jobs, whether they choose to attend college or enter the workforce.

But those credentials may not be available for some time: District officials do not expect the new academies to be fully operational until July 2020, according to school board members.

Read the full article about career education in Newark schools by Patrick Wall at Chalkbeat