The call for career-ready and college-ready standards is raising questions, writes Catherine Gewertz on Curriculum Matters. What does the career part really mean?
Some experts aren’t convinced that the common standards have what it takes to prepare kids for 21st-century employment. Others are skeptical of the whole argument that any one set of skills can cover the diversity of skills needed in the economy’s wide range of jobs.
Apprenticeships and “workforce-oriented high school training” aren’t as common in the U.S. as in Europe, notes USA Today.
One reason is that such programs sound dangerously similar to tracking — sorting students by ability level, a practice repeatedly rejected in U.S. culture, in which the dominant philosophy is that all students should have opportunity to meet their full potential.
My definition of “career ready” is the set of skills needed to qualify for a union apprenticeship or to have a good shot at earning a vocational certificate at a community college. These probably are not the same skills needed to earn a four-year college degree. We’re not serving young people well if we don’t give them a choice: Take courses that will prepare you to earn a four-year degree — not just enroll, take remedial classes and quit — or take classes that will prepare you to learn a skilled job.