Two high-profile events in late September underscore the fact that if California is going to successfully reinvent its public education system, innovative partnerships are key.
First is the MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” to Amir Abo-Shaeer, a science teacher at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta. This UC Santa Barbara engineering graduate left a job in industry to return to his alma mater.
Nine years later, he’s running the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy, a program that’s the envy of secondary education systems everywhere. He’s talking about creating a way to launch new robotics and science-oriented academies everywhere — and now, with the MacArthur grant, he’ll have $500,000 to invest in that, or any other project he chooses.
Abo-Shaeer’s students have won regional, national and even international awards, and the McArthur grant will go a long way toward making Santa Barbara a hub for the advancement of high school excellence. But Abo-Shaeer has also had powerful partners in his drive for excellence, among them Raytheon, whose large facilities in the region have helped provide support for the academy as it progressed from a dream to a reality.
In the post-secondary area, a unique partnership between CSU Channel Islands and Santa Barbara City College is advancing business education across the region.
This partnership involves a collaboration between the Martin V. Smith School of Business & Economics and the city college’s business program.
SBCC will host bachelor of science-level courses in business on Saturdays for up to 30 students in a class per year.
The program will be run by CSUCI, with facilities and outreach provided by SBCC. The SBCC-CSUCI collaboration will also help lay the groundwork for the Smith School to offer an MBA on the South Coast in 2011.
For SBCC President Andreea Serban and CSUCI President Dick Rush, taking a leap such as this in an uncertain budget environment is a big risk.
But risks such as these — and the ongoing efforts of visionaries such as Abo-Shaeer — are necessary for the future growth of our region’s economy.