‘Food for Singles’ or French?

California students must take an arts class or a foreign language to graduate from high school, but a bill on the governor’s desk would let students choose a career course instead. The sponsor, Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Gardena, hopes the option will engage students who might otherwise drop out.

Common Core, which strongly opposes the idea, looks at Granada High School, where vocational options include:

* Hospitality to “learn grooming and proper work ethic.”

* Fashion Apparel to “learn sewing machine basics.”

* Landscape Design to “grow flowers, ornamental plants and vegetables.”

* Food for Singles to learn culinary “short cuts, new techniques, budgeting their food dollars, and multiple uses of appliances.”

“Education is about more than workforce preparation,” Common Core argues. “It’s about building creativity, wonder, cultural literacy and citizenship, for starters.”

California’s college-prep curriculum includes arts and a foreign language. However, the students who’d prefer “Hospitality” are not planning to apply to a state university.

The problem I see is that the bill includes no funding to develop high-quality  classes that would prepare students for real careers, most of which will require some additional training at a community college or in an apprenticeship program. Potential drop-outs might be motivated by Cooking for Chefs. It’s hard to believe anyone sees Food for Singles as a reason to stay in school.

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Comments

  1. Actually, I think Home Ec was way more useful a class to me in jr. high than Art. I cook every day and have within the past year started to sew as a hobby. By contrast, I never draw, paint, or sculpt.

    While I do believe a foreign language should be a requirement for graduation, I have no problem with students choosing to substitute a life skills course for art.

  2. I bet we could apply this to other areas of the curriculum too:

    1. Instead of learning algebra let’s offer a class on “Lotto numbers”

    2. To satisfy PE requirements kids could watch some sports on TV, or in more rigorous classes, actually attend live sports — tickets could be subsidized

    3. As an option for English, take a class which requires them to post on Twitter 20 times a day.

    I’m sure Crimson Wife would agree that for many students, Lotto, TV sports, and Twitter are more relevant than boring ol’ algebra.

    The focus on dropout prevention is always going to lead to strategies to put more butts in the seats at the expense of educational quality. It’s the result of confusing a “high school diploma” with a “high school education.”

  3. The focus on dropout prevention is always going to lead to strategies to put more butts in the seats at the expense of educational quality. It’s the result of confusing a ‘high school diploma’ with a ‘high school education.’

    Another point of confusion is to mix up “education” with “mathematical/verbal education.” I can imagine some number of kids who are going to flame out if algebra 2 and a foreign language are required for graduation who might do quite well if they could take a bunch of metal-shop/woodworking/carpentry/plumbing/etc classes.

    I think it is pretty obvious to everyone that it would be insane to require calculus to graduate high school. A *real* algebra 2 class is probably just as big a hurdle for 30-40% of the population. And just as pointless. But we keep raising the bar … or pretending to.

    -Mark Roulo

  4. It’s hard to believe anyone sees Food for Singles as a reason to stay in school.

    Hard to believe anyone sees French as that reason, either.

  5. Math and English are core classes. Art is an elective. Students need literacy and numeracy in order to be productive members of society. The overwhelming majority won’t need to know how to draw, sculpt, or paint.

    I have absolutely no problem with a student substituting one elective (home ec) for another (art).

  6. I dunno. I enjoyed Art even though I didn’t become an artist, it was kind of a bright spot in the day. Home Ec wasn’t as much fun: I had already learned to cook, better, from my mom. (In Cooking we made jelly roll, and brownies, and meatloaf and spaghetti. Not exactly balanced). And it was the same with Sewing, except I actually got in trouble for sewing on a button the way I had been taught, and not the (slightly different) way the teacher prescribed.

    I also enjoyed French. I didn’t enjoy Algebra so much but understood that it was important to know.

    I would think “cooking for singles” and such are more like continuing-ed classes, like what most college campuses offer as enrichment for adults who are already out of school…

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  3. [...] Sacramento Bee and Education Week’s Curriculum Matters have posted provocative articles on it.  Joanne Jacobs questions the quality of California’s CTE courses.  LA Times Culture Monster wonders if the [...]