Core Plus: High School Matters

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Machine Shop at Rainier Beach High School

“Education” usually ranks high on lists of what’s wrong with America.  And, in some ways, that’s just plain dumb.

The nation is still home to good kids, motivated teachers and successful instructional programs. All three are part of a smart new program in the State of Washington called Core Plus.

The initiative achieved a major milestone this summer when The Boeing Company hired three dozen graduates straight out of high school. Graduates have also landed jobs in the Puget Sound Shipyard, and at local smaller businesses while others have gone onto community college programs, construction apprenticeships and baccalaureate institutions including UW, WSU and Cal State Maritime.

You can learn more about how Core Plus might help your child, your business or your community at the Core Plus Expo on Thursday, October 15, at the Georgetown Campus of South Seattle College just off East Marginal Way, north of Boeing Field. Or, learn more by calling the Manufacturing Industrial Council at 206-762-2470.

The Boeing hires are highlighted in a video on the company website. View it here.

Core Plus also helped to support a Seattle Public Schools skills center summer program, primarily serving high school freshmen and sophomores. A video about those students is available here

Cosponsors include the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the League of Education Voters, the Northwest Marine Trade Association, the Washington National Guard, the Port of Seattle, the Manufacturing Industrial Council and The Boeing Company.

Space on field trips is prioritized for educators, but space will be provided to others if possible.

Public events during the Expo are free for people from the business community or civic groups, but if you are not an educator, you must RSVP through the MIC by emailing

Educators must register through

Core Plus is based on the “core” entry-level  skills that just about every industrial business needs in applied math, material science, tool and equipment use along with shop safety and other mandatory work habits.  The “plus” refers to more specialized skills specific to, say, marine manufacturing or aircraft repair.

Introduced at a test site in Yakima four years ago, Core Plus instruction is now available at 37 locations across the state with enrollment options for students from 150 high schools. That’s great progress, but in the grand scheme, the program still has a long ways to go.

About 400 high schools throughout Washington still have shop equipment and facilities, but major challenges confront efforts to sustain opportunities for this kind of hands-on learning in math, science and technology.  Barriers include some who cling to the belief high schools are best structured as launch pads for university learning.

But, for many students, high school matters because it may be their only option to learn basic skills that will enable themselves to find jobs and prepare themselves for further educational opportunities.

Core Plus shows the value of enhancing these learning opportunities for all students.

The Expo will show you how it all works – and how it might grow in the future.