By Ioana Seritan, HUB Correspondent–
Pursuing a bachelor’s degree is one path to take after high school. When college is not the best choice, however, students can find another route into the labor force through ROP classes.
ROP at DHS
The Regional Occupational Program (ROP) in Davis is run through the Yolo County Office of Education (YCOE). The goal of ROP classes is to provide high school students with career guidance, employment training, and educational support, according to the YCOE website.
Each ROP class is essentially “an entry-level training program,” said Kathy Peter, the teacher of ROP Stagecraft Production. In theory, “students could get an entry-level job based on the training” provided solely in that class.
The funding for ROP comes from the county, which gets it from the state. The ROP program hasn’t undergone budget cuts like the rest of the school’s funding because “one of [the state’s] goals is to support Career Tech education,” head counselor Courtenay Tessler said.
According to Tessler, there’s a set amount of money from the state for all the high schools in Yolo County to use specifically for ROP. All of the schools compete, but DHS has access to enough funds to pay for even more ROP classes than are currently offered.
Lack of qualified teachers and insufficient student interest are the only explanations for the missing ROP classes.
For example, “not enough students signed up for Ornamental Horticulture [when it was suggested], so we didn’t offer it,” Tessler said.
Why ROP matters
“Two thirds of the kids in this region are not going to college,” said Mindy Romero, a researcher at the UC Davis Center for Regional Change. “Focusing on getting kids to college doesn’t work for everyone.”
Offering vocational classes like those in the ROP program is one way to “make school more relative” for kids who aren’t planning on going to college. Especially in this recession, having an ability or skill set straight out of high school is “absolutely critical,” Romero said.
What students learn in ROP classes can lead to good jobs in the ‘real world.’
Geoff Belleau, who teaches ROP Networking, said that most of his students from five years ago are now working in the computer industry.
Blue Devils who complete Belleau’s class earn industry certifications. With those certifications, “students go off and earn more than teachers,” Belleau said.
ROP classes teach more than just the subject matter indicated in the course title. ROP Stagecraft, for example, does not stop at educating students in the art of set-building.
“Stagecraft easily has taught me a million things about working in a business,” junior Deanna Gee said. The class has shown Gee that “it takes time, patience, and team-work wherever you work to get what you want.”
The students in Stagecraft are certainly putting time and team-work into their class. Some of Kathy Peter’s students were still working backstage after 7th period on Friday, Dec. 2. While other kids drove gleefully home for the weekend, these high schoolers dismantled wood structures that had languished in a storage area for unspecified amounts of time.
As Peter sat in the audience, a senior walked out on stage and asked her what to do with a certain prop.
“I want those sets out of my life,” Peter said, and the student relayed the news to his peers – without a complaint for the extra work her words cost him.
Belleau said, “Not everyone can be a CEO.” Someone just has to get down and do the work, and ROP classes offer the preparation that that someone needs.