Ebon Brown

Photo by Christopher Morant

Ebon Brown addresses attendees of the “Be Ready Beaumont” program.

BY CHRISTOPHER MORANT

For the Record Gazette

Several members of the Beaumont Unified School District were accompanied at Beaumont High School by representatives from different trade-school industries for the first of three Career Technical Education presentations, which detailed the district’s “Be Ready Beaumont” program that kicked off during an event on Oct. 19.

“Something that we really feel is missing from all of education is a robust career exploration program, where kids can really start to understand what they want to do with their lives,” explained the district’s Chief Innovation Officer Ebon Brown as he began his presentation.

Brown detailed how the school district is beginning to shift from a “college for all” mantra to focusing on encouraging “post-secondary credentials.”

As Brown described, “the message we’re trying to convey to our students is, ‘you don’t have to go to college but you have to do something.’ You have to get additional training.”

Providing statistics on college completion rates in the state, Brown notes that only 20 percent of adults in the Pass area have earned a bachelor’s degree, which is lower than the 30 percent graduation rate in California.

However, as Brown points out, “It’s not necessarily about a postsecondary degree anymore, it’s about a credential that can get you into a high skill, high wage profession.”

What does this look like for the Beaumont Unified School District? According to Brown, with BUSD being the second fastest growing school district in Southern California, “Our job is to make sure kids understand what they want to do when they leave” high school.

The district is attempting to accomplish this by providing a “robust, career education program,” according to Brown.

Classes that teach skills such as digital art, engineering, or coding fall under a category known as Career Technical Education (CTE), and the district plans to offer more CTE opportunities to students in order to push career readiness out of high school.

“We have approximately a 23 percent CTE completion rate,” Brown stated, referring to the percentage of students who have completed an entire course of CTE classes. “Completing” a CTE pathway means taking all levels of classes made available; for example, taking Engineering I and Engineering II.

Most CTE pathways consist of two levels, although some require a third.

“About five years ago, we had about five pathways here,” Brown stated, “and now we’re up to 15 pathways districtwide.”

Currently, Beaumont High School offers nine CTE pathways, including those based on arts, engineering, health science, culinary arts, computer science, and public services. These courses have about 1,300 participants, which is about 46 percent of the student population at BHS. The newly opened Summerwind Trails K-8 school also offers CTE classes at the middle school level.

Of course, these classes require teachers to run them, and the hiring process for CTE instructors differs from that of traditional educators.

In fact, the majority of CTE teachers don’t have a four-year college degree; their experience in their industry can sometimes be just as invaluable to pass on to students.

“If you have three years of full-time experience in your industry,” Brown said, “with a thousand hours of experience each year, you qualify for a K-12 teaching credential.”

In addition, the district will honor up to 15 years of industry experience when determining salary for CTE teachers.

Christopher Morant is a Beaumont High School student intern with the Record Gazette. He may be reached at chrismorant36@gmail.com.

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