Career tech ed for all

Stereotypes about Career and Technical Education (CTE) may be crumbling, writes Randall Garton on Shanker Blog. According to a National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE) report, the old distinctions between “CTE” and “academic” students are no longer useful. Nearly all high school students, including high achievers, enroll in some CTE courses.

States classify students as “vocational” or “academic” based on 50-25-25 rule that goes back to the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917.

Vocational education students spent 50 percent of their time in the shop, 25 percent of their time studying closely related topics, and 25 percent in academic subjects. Although the classifications were eventually broadened to include general students (neither vocational nor academic) and dual (both), the underlying concepts remained unchanged.

Over time, “federal and state policy increasingly emphasized” academics, which influenced the Perkins Vocational Education Act of 1984. But even as voc ed became “career and technical education,” the academic-or-vocational divide remained, writes Garton.

Using NRCCTE’s new template, researchers estimate that 92 percent of public high school students take at least some CTE courses. Nearly 17 percent  complete both high-intensity CTE courses and academic requirements in an “occupational area.”

I worry that schools are unwilling to offer pathways that lead directly to work or even apprenticeships, believing that all programs must be — or pretend to be — college prep.

‘Middle’ skills lead to middle-class jobs

Career technical education is “the missing middle ground in American education and workforce preparation,”  concludes a new report. There are 29 million jobs paying middle-class wages — $35,000 to $75,000 a year — that are open to workers with employer-based training, industry or college certifications, apprenticeships and associate degrees.

Students need to know there’s a third path to success that gets them much farther than a high school diploma and doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree, writes a community college president.

Getting to Graduation: How — and how many?

Getting to Graduation will require state and federal policies that encourage new and established higher ed providers “to compete with one another on the value they deliver to their students,” argues a new book on the completion agenda in higher education. And don’t forget apprenticeships, vocational certificates and associate degrees that qualify graduates for “middle-skill” jobs.

How the Germans (and others) do voc ed

Nancy Hoffman’s Schooling in the Workplace: How Six of the World’s Best Vocational Education Systems Prepare Young People for Jobs and Life reminds us of how much the U.S. has neglected vocational education, writes Graham Down in an Ed Next review.

Believing in equality of educational opportunity, U.S. schools promote the same goal — some sort of college — to all students, Hoffman writes. Our competitors — Germany,  Austria, Australia, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland – integrate job training with academics, increasingly moving learning from the classroom to the workplace.

In the U.S., Hoffman sees promising  CTE (Career and Technical Education) in Big Picture Learning schools, Project Lead the Way and Linked Learning  However, the U.S. culture makes it very hard to offer vocational training without promising that most students will end up going to college.

Coast Guard trains its own shipyard workers

As older shipyard workers retire, the Coast Guard is training apprentices in ship-building skills. Always in demand: electricians.

College isn’t for everyone

The crusade to send everyone to college has backfired, writes Robert Samuelson. It’s dumbed down colleges and filled high schools with bored, frustrated students who see no connection between their college-prep classes and their goals.

In Canada, male apprentices earn slightly more than community college graduates, new research shows.

To fix student loans, make college unnecessary

To fix student loans, make college unnecessary, writes columnist Ed Quillen in the Denver Post.

Sending more people to college is no solution. Indeed, it would make the problem worse, for it would just drive costs up further while putting a glut of graduates on the market, thereby depressing their earnings.

Instead, we need to extend our civil-rights laws to forbid job discrimination based on educational credentials. Employers would be free to test potential employees to see if they had relevant skills and knowledge, but they could not ask for educational credentials.

If college was optional, prices would plummet, Quillen predicts. “People who wanted to study medieval French literature could still pursue degrees at schools populated by scholars seeking knowledge,” while job seekers would learn by reading, studying online, apprenticeship or whatever enabled them to pass the qualifying test.

After all, you don’t need a degree in English to ask, “Do you want fries with that?”

As learning goes online, it will increase the pressure to find ways for independent learners to prove what they know.

College in high school

Providing college classes at high school campuses present a series of challenges, writes a community college dean. Principals want to maintain their traditional schedule and authority structure.

Community colleges have created “corporate colleges” that customize learn-while-you-earn training for  apprentices in local industries.

Brown: New teachers need apprenticeship

Ed Week‘s Teaching Ahead asks young teachers how teacher preparation should be changed. Several teachers who started after a crash course in teaching over the summer say they needed much more time to learn the job, though a graduate of teachers’ education also says she wasn’t prepared for classroom realities.

Time to Practice Is a Need, Not a Luxury, writes Dan Brown, who taught fourth grade for a chaotic year in the Bronx with alternative certification and eventually earned a master’s degree in education.

Looking back, my ignorance was staggering. I had bought—with the help of my alternative-certification program designed to plug chronic staffing shortages—the most insidious myth about teaching: anybody smart and dedicated can swoop in and rock it.

. . . The most important baseline that preparation programs must provide incoming teachers is substantial time in a variety of classrooms before those rookies assume the reins. An entire school year of structured observation and apprentice-teaching must be standard.

Brown’s book on his first year of teaching, The Great Expectations School, provides a vivid picture of the challenging students, colleagues and administrators. Brown provides a lot of specifics on his teaching. I’d have loved more on how the school was staffed:  The school seemed to have more administrators and other staffers than classroom teachers. Brown got more feedback on the quality of the classroom bulletin board than he did on how to manage students or teach.

Spark apprenticeships start early

What’s your dream job? Spark, which connects disadvantaged middle-school students with professionals in their dream job, is expanding from California to Chicago.

I think it makes sense to motivate students before they reach high school.