Celebrating American Education Week with Partnerships in Education: Linden McKinley STEM Academy

Today marks the beginning of American Education Week. The annual observance, now in its 90th year, honors students, teachers, support staff, parents, and members of the community who help students succeed. In support of American Education Week, we will feature a selection of schools from our Partnerships in Education report that have worked collaboratively with teachers unions to create opportunities for disenfranchised students.

We’re kicking off the week by highlighting Linden McKinley STEM Academy, a member of the Columbus City Schools District in Columbus, Ohio. Threatened by low student achievement and graduation rates, the Columbus City School District decided to adopt a new cutting-edge curriculum built around STEM – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

In an effort to gain community support, and with the help of the National Education Association’s Public Engagement Program, the local teachers union convened a meeting of more than 300 parents, business leaders, educators, administrators, and faith-based and political leaders to learn about the new curriculum. By emphasizing 21st century skills like critical thinking and problem solving, the curriculum was expressly designed to close achievement gaps in the predominately low-income and black community that Linden-McKinley serves. The school’s revamped curriculum enables students to create science experiments, earn college credit, use high-tech educational tools and equipment, and get on-the-job learning experience.

Because workers in STEM occupations have the potential to earn about 70 percent more than the national average, focusing on STEM careers early on gives these students a competitive advantage. In fact, since implementing the program, the graduation rate at Linden-McKinley increased from 52.5 percent in 2009 to 62.5 percent in 2010 – proving that when teachers unions, administrators, and the community work together they can have a substantial influence on the success of our youth.

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