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.

Build non-degree paths to the middle class

Can the Middle Class Be Saved? asks Don Peck in an interesting (and depressing) Atlantic story.

College graduates with a four-year degree are doing better than non-graduates, whose prospects are “flat or failing,” he writes. But the only people earning more are those with postgraduate degrees.

The less-educated middle class — people who made a decent living without a bachelor’s degree — is suffering financially and socially, Peck writes.

In a national study of the American family released late last year, the sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox wrote that among “Middle Americans”—people with a high-school diploma but not a college degree—an array of signals of family dysfunction have begun to blink red. “The family lives of today’s moderately educated Americans,” which in the 1970s closely resembled those of college graduates, now “increasingly resemble those of high-school dropouts, too often burdened by financial stress, partner conflict, single parenting, and troubled children.”

. . . Between 2006 and 2008, among moderately educated women, 44 percent of all births occurred outside marriage, not far off the rate (54 percent) among high-school dropouts; among college-educated women, that proportion was just 6 percent.

National policy is to turn everyone into a college graduate.

Grants, loans, and tax credits to undergraduate and graduate students total roughly $160 billion each year; by contrast, in 2004, federal, state, and local spending on employment and training programs (which commonly assist people without a college education) totaled $7 billion—an inflation-adjusted decline of about 75 percent since 1978.

Peck likes the idea of “career academies” within larger high schools and apprenticeships linked to community colleges as ways to help students find “paths into the middle class that do not depend on a four-year college degree.”

School choice: college or career prep?

Students need a choice of college prep or trade school, writes Ilana Garon, who teaches high school in the Bronx, in the Huffington Post.

Uninterested in learning to spot the symbolism in Animal Farm, tenth-grader Danielle announces she doesn’t plan to go to college.  Instead, she’s taking community college courses to qualify as a massage therapist. “I want to have something ready to go when I graduate,” she says.

A few years ago, I would have been horrified at this pronouncement. . . . But these days, I’m more inclined to be impressed by Danielle’s self-awareness, foresight and her implicit understanding of a fact I wish our system leaders would see: that perpetuation of the current “college for all” trend in education is neither economically viable nor beneficial to all students.

Career tech students would need strong literacy and math skills, Garon writes, but not necessarily the same skills required to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Curricular emphasis in trade schools would perhaps be shifted from traditional literary analysis (themes, symbols, etc.) to literacy in functional documents, perhaps teaching students to read technical articles or to use math-based software programs that would be applicable to our tech-reliant workforce.

Queensland, Australia has introduced a “learning or earning” program after 10th grade, a commenter writes. Students can take academic classes to prepare for university, train for a job at a technical college or start a trade apprenticeship.

Students must be either enrolled in the program full-time, or working a minimum of 25 hours per week and studying part-time.
. . .  ALL young people receive a statement of learning detailing their achievemen­ts when they turn 17.
Parents and students decide on the “senior phase of learning.” Students can change paths, if things don’t work out.
In high-scoring Finland, about half of students go to vocational school at the age of 15 or 16.
Of course, developing high-quality career tech programs on this scale would be a challenge.

Community colleges and jobs, jobs, jobs

Today’s White House Summit on Community Colleges will focus on job training.

Blue-collar jobs should get more respect, says Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel’s  ‘Dirty Jobs’ show.

Tech colleges are training apprentices for local manufacturers.

Charter school is ‘labor of love’ for union

For the Laborers’ Union, a Cranston, Rhode Island charter school is a “labor of love,” writes Julia Steiny in the Providence Journal.

Struggling to recruit high school graduates as members, the union worked with the school district to create the New England Laborers’ Career Academy, which prepares students for construction apprenticeships and work in other jobs. The school provides an alternative to students who aren’t motivated by academic learning and are likely to drop out.

At Laborers, Cranston academic teachers and instructors who are journeyman laborers themselves jointly craft an academic program geared to the construction trade. For example, math involves everything from learning financial literacy to calculating the volume of concrete needed for a job. The skills are the same as those taught in traditional schools, but applied to the world of construction.

Some students want an alternative to a traditional high school but aren’t interested in construction work. So the school also offers a general career program to motivate them to earn a diploma.

School staffers develop summer and post-graduation jobs for students. Those who want more education are “on a fast track to an associate’s degree in applied science” at the local community college.

Via Flypaper.