Touting a motto of “no child left offline,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson spread the vision of connected students throughout California on Wednesday.
He spoke to a packed room at the Earl Warren Showgrounds during the Santa Barbara Partners in Education breakfast. Amid a host of student awards and internship reports, Torlakson commended the program for bringing business into the classrooms and drawing students into the workplace.
The superintendent has been in office for four months, and technology in schools has presented a huge issue.
“We must move into the 21st century. We must have Internet connections for every student in California,” Torlakson said, adding that skill sets would follow that are critical in the workplace.
He said he is working with Barry Schuler, former CEO of AOL, and a host of others on the initiative, of which more details will be released in the coming weeks. He said stressing science education also will be key as California moves forward.
Earlier in the program, several high school students who were given jobs at the Med Center talked about their internships.
“We all learned a lot, and we have a different perspective of the medical field already,” one student intern said.
“The need is enormous,” Torlakson said, adding that internships make classroom time more relevant. That role was clear as dozens of students filed up to the stage to accept awards for completion of internships.
Partners in Education Executive Director Ben Romo spoke about the mentorship role that the partners play. He showed a picture of his 3-year-old daughter, Ruby, and said that she, and other children like her, need adult mentors.
“I worry who will be there for Ruby when I cannot protect and guide her.” he said. “Today in this room, we really have it all.”
Career advisers, school, nonprofit and church leaders, and many others were all present — all valuable mentors for young people, Romo said.
“There are so many kids out there who need that random, heroic person to come into their lives and change them for the better,” he said.