Students think jobs require no math, English

Academics are pointless, Ilana Garon’s students at a Bronx high school told her.  “When am I ever going to need Shakespeare? Or geometry?”

When asked, two said they wanted to be astronauts. A third wants to be an actress. “You want to be astronauts, and you think you’re not going to need math?”  Garon asked. She turned to the actress. “Or English?”

They were certain that most of what they were learning in high school was totally irrelevant to their future career choices.

Garon supports alternatives to the traditional “college for all” academic path such as trade and career-tech programs. Her “students also need a crash course in career awareness.”  Many careers — IT, accounting, engineering, hospitality management — are off their radar. They don’t know the skills and habits the workforce requires.

Sally Ride, astronaut and teacher

Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, died yesterday of pancreatic cancer at the age of 61. A physicist, Ride devoted her post-NASA career as an educator to making science “cool” for young people, writes RiShawn Biddle on Dropout Nation.

With her life partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, Ride founded Sally Ride Science, which trained science teachers and organized summer science camps and festivals.

. . . as a board member of one ExxonMobil spinoff, the National Science and Math Initiative, … she made her greatest contribution. Through her role, NMSI has worked to give more young men and women, especially from poor and minority backgrounds, access to the strong, comprehensive college-preparatory education they need to get into the science and math fields that are the drivers of prosperity in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy. This includes its Advanced Placement recruitment initiative, which now works with 228 high schools in seven states to improve the success of black and Latino teens in math and science.

She was a very cool person.