Last year 318 graduating seniors opted to continue their education in a four year college. 85 students decided to attend a two year college. And of the remaining 30-plus young adults that decided to enter the work force, very few got the training and education to help them thrive in the workforce and community.
With the bleak job market, young adults attempting to enter the workforce in a job that pays well enough to sustain themselves need a distinctive advantage or skill to help set themselves apart. Although a student won’t be able to achieve a thoroughly developed trade in plumbing or electrical work, for example, they would have a head start and knowledge that is marketable.
Our district’s negligence can be seen in their inability to accommodate for the changes. Despite their goals being to get 100 percent of their students to go to college, they need to accept the fact that for some students college isn’t in the cards and that making the students more employable is the best way to help their students and the committee. For these students, a core curriculum loaded with liberal arts and sciences isn’t nearly as useful as a curriculum that is able to find a healthy balance between traditional standard level courses mixed in with courses that focus on practical learning with real-world application.
These students know early on in their high school career that they don’t intend to attend college due to family circumstances or the economy, but having the ability for them to go through some practical learning courses may make the difference between them getting and keeping a job to not. Courses that have more of a vocational feel to them will make them more adept for the job market. A basic knowledge in the fields of plumbing or electrical work will give them a head-start and maybe an initiative to pursue a job like this out of high school. These courses should be optional but students should be very aware of their existence and availability.
Although these courses don’t set the stage for the traditional four-year college, it won’t matter.
The district can also use this approach for students planning on continuing their education as well. Allow a student to opt out of a math class for an accounting class, or maybe a computer programming class. Allow journalism to be an English substitute, as well as having a career advisory seminar as a substitute for seminar or one of your other core classes.
To make a program like this successful, the district must do more than simply making the classes available. They must be treated like core classes and not electives — the difference changes the student’s mind set and encourages them to take it more seriously. With these courses only being electives, the students it was actually designed for will be scared away.
Already having a less realistic form of these programs at the district’s Broadmoor facility the district already has a way to run these in a pilot program. But gradually implementing them in each area high school is the only way to ensure they reach their full potential.