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Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg vowed this week to craft legislation that would provide a money-making incentive for businesses to invest in high school or community college career education.

"I'm going to introduce that bill this year," he told the Community College League of California, representing the state's 72 community college districts, at its annual conference Monday in downtown Sacramento.

"Make it worthwhile," Steinberg said. "Make it part of the business model that says you can make more money if you invest in a community college career pathway or a high school career pathway than you can on Wall Street."'

Steinberg said his legislation would be a complement to Senate Bill 1458, signed into law last year, that de-emphasizes standardized test scores when measuring the performance of California schools.

To better prepare students for careers, not just pass tests, Steinberg wants to promote active partnerships between schools and businesses that provide both an academic education and job skills.

Specifics have not been crafted, but conceptually here's how Steinberg's proposal would work: Businesses that agree to serve as partners in and invest money for a high school or community college career program would receive reimbursement from the state, plus interest at higher than market rates.

Participating businesses would help develop the curriculum for career pathway programs, and would provide internships or mentorships that lead to high-wage jobs for participating students, Steinberg said.

The financial incentive to businesses could come from direct investment or through tax credits, he said.

"There may be a number of different ways to do this," Steinberg said, but the state should "make it a priority to use both our expenditure ability and our tax credit authority to invest in human beings and prepare them for great jobs and a great life."


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