By TOM HONIG
Sometimes, there's a community event that makes you feel better about the world. That happened Wednesday in Santa Cruz at the Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz at a celebration of "Your Future Is Our Business." The organization is associated with both Cabrillo College and the County Office of Education, and involves encouraging partnerships between the business community and education.
Sound boring? It's not. Many of those attending were students from around Santa Cruz County, many of them students or graduates of the local Regional Occupation Program sponsored by the county office of ed. Also attending were local business leaders, who talked informally with a number of students interspersed around the room.
One of the speakers, Cabrillo President Brian King, pointed out that 80 percent of jobs are filled by those who have a high-school education, plus additional higher ed -- but something short of a college degree. Those students attending (and some who were speaking) are already on track for careers in fire prevention, dental tech and even medicine.
Student speakers presented their individual stories to an audience filled with local business leaders who -- as one speaker pointed out -- are always hoping to find future employees.
There's a lot of negativity these days about the state of our schools -- and even an assumption that they're not preparing students for jobs. Critics point to the lack of occupational ed on campus. Well, that assumption isn't true, at least in Santa Cruz County. The county Office of Education's ROP program brings in non-teachers who might be expert at wood shop or bicycle repair or even emergency medicine and has them teach their specialty to high-school students.
That partnership between local schools, their occupational programs and the community was on display at the luncheon. As I said -- it was one of those events that makes you feel better about the world.