There is a lot of talk about college and career readiness today but I believe they have it backwards. The conversation needs to revolve around high school students making the right career pathway decisions; then they can decide what post secondary education or training is really needed. Why do I say this? Let's look at the FACTS today in America's high schools. Watch this video to learn more.
- 7,000 students drop out every day
- 70% Graduation rate nationwide and only 50% in many urban schools
- 1.3 million students dropping out every year
So what is causing this tragic condition? I believe it is the ever increasing lack of relevance in America's high schools. Those of us who have been following the excellent work of Bill Daggett know that he says rigor is only possible when there is relevance.
One of the reasons that school is not relevant for many students is the push for every child to be prepared for a four-year university experience. That is nonsense. Fact is, only about 25 % of the jobs in the future will require a four year degree but 65% will need advanced technical training. What we really need to be doing is giving high school (and middle school) students enough experience to make intelligent, informed decisions about which career pathway to pursue. Only then can they make the right decision about going to college and what to pursue. Preparing all students for a four year university experience has another huge problem lying beneath the surface… huge student loan debt. An article in USA Today describes this looming economic bomb.
I recall a story about a young man in a Michigan high school that upon graduation was going to join the family business, manufacturing parts for the auto industry. His father built a very successful machining business and the son was eager join it full time and use the CNC tools. The father overheard the son talking to one of his friends on the telephone explaining that he had not yet decided on either Michigan or Michigan State. When the call was over the Dad said that he didn't know that the son wanted to go to college and they needed to start applying right away. The son responded that he is still joining the family business but he didn't want his friends to know he wasn't going to college. Have we now made it dishonorable to not pursue a four year university degree?
A great answer to this dilemma is to offer more well designed and academically rigorous Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs. In March, 2012 at the International Technology & Engineering Educator Association (ITEEA) conference in Long Beach, Tom Torlakson, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said that they were committed to double the number of students enrolled in CTE programs. Those students have a much higher graduation rate than students who do not take CTE. He said that in California, students taking CTE courses had nearly a 96% graduation rate.
Great CTE programs really do help students make better post secondary education decisions. An article in the NY Times on November 2, 2011 accurately pointed out that College Majors Matter. The author pointed out that, while college enrollment has increased by 50% over the past 25 years, the number of students graduating with degrees in STEM related fields has been flat. Today, students graduating with STEM related degrees are much more likely to find high paying work.
At PAXTON/PATTERSON we understand the need for quality CTE programs and have been supplying the products they need for more than 50 years. For the last 20 years we have also provided learning systems to schools across America and around the world. Today we offer six learning systems for STEM, Construction, Health Science and Family & Consumer Sciences. These programs bring outstanding relevance and rigorous curriculum to thousands of students every day. Our learning systems help students discover their Sweet Spot, where their interests and aptitudes converge. They can say, “I like this and I am good at it.” If you would like learn more about how our learning systems are changing the lives of so many students, then visit our website.
You may want to read the article or watch the video on how the Los Angeles County Office of Education teamed up with the Probation Department to provide our BuildingSkills program to youth. Perhaps if we had more of these programs in the public high schools we would have less need to incarcerate youth.
Bud Johnson VP Sales and Marketing PAXTON/PATTERSON