Rethinking career technical education is the theme of this month’s American Educator, published by the American Federation of Teachers.
Kansas will let schools hire uncertified teachers with experience in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields but no education credentials.
Teachers can qualify with a bachelor’s degree — or “an industry-recognized certificate in a technical profession” — and at least five years of work experience in a STEM field. Schools are expected to use the policy primarily to hire career-tech teachers.
The War Against Boys still rages, writes Christina Hoff Sommers in the revised edition of her 2000 book.
The boys are losing, writes Nathan Glazer in an Education Next review. Schools continue to ignore boys’ “distinctive characteristics” and “the gap in school achievement between boys and girls” is “even more substantial and troubling.”
Sommers describes trends in education that hurt boys, including “the
decline of recess, punitive zero-tolerance policies, myths about juvenile ‘superpredators,’ and a misguided campaign against single-sex schooling.”
“As our schools become more feelings centered, risk averse, competition-free, and sedentary, they move further and further from the characteristic sensibilities of boys,” she writes.
“The movement to give special attention to girls and their needs was part of the grand drive to equality that has dominated American life and politics for decades,” writes Glazer, a Harvard professor emeritus in education and sociology. “But the drive for equality for the sexes was accompanied by a litigious and bureaucratic fervor that often went beyond common sense.”
Career tech programs that have engaged boys are under pressure to enroll more girls, Sommers writes. Few girls sign up for welding or pipefitting. Few boys want to be cosmetologists or child-care workers.
The Obama administration hopes to use the $1.1 billion Perkins Act to push more girls into “nontraditional” vocational and technical training, notes Glazer.
Sommers points out that in 2010 women made up 64 percent of graduate students in social science, 75 percent in public administration, 78 percent in veterinary medicine, and 80 percent in health sciences. Will that attract the attention of politicians and of bureaucrats enforcing Title IX?
Thirty-two percent of 27-year-old women have earned a four-year degree, compared to only 24 percent of men, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
(Academic) college isn’t for everyone, wrote Fordham’s Mike Petrilli in Slate. Some students who are failing in college might succeed if they pursued job training, he argued.
It sparked a huge response. Many argued that students need college prep and career prep.
Others accused Petrilli of “the soft bigotry of low expectations” for low-income and minority students.
“Community college ready” should be the minimum goal for all cognitively able students, responded Sandy Kress, an aide to George W. Bush. That means high school graduates should be able to take academic or vocational classes at a community college without the need for remediation.
Kress “prays” that “CTE advocates make these courses as rigorous and valued as they promise they will, and not just a dodge for them to avoid teaching and learning in the so-called old fashioned courses.” In the past, dead-end vocational education has been a “trap” for low-income and minority kids, writes Kress.
Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Jobs in Metropolitan America, edited by Penn Professor Laura Perna, looks at the gap between school and the workforce.
Check out “Nancy Hoffman’s excellent chapter on career and technical education,” advises Liz McInerny on Education Gadfly. Education and training for a specific calling would keep students in school and on track for decent jobs, Hoffman writes.
“College for all” sets low achievers up for “almost certain failure,” argues Fordham’s Mike Petrilli. “High-quality career and technical education” would enable some to succeed.
But if students aren’t “college material,” will they be “blue-collar material?”
Is college worth it for C students? Check out Robert VerBruggen’s graph of ability, education and income.
States are dropping college-prep-for-all requirements in a school standards rebellion, writes Stephanie Simon on Politico.
Florida students no longer need chemistry, physics or Algebra II to graduate from high school. Texas just scrapped its Algebra II requirement. And Washington state has dropped its foreign language mandate.
. . . They’re letting teens study welding instead of Spanish, take greenhouse management in place of physics and learn car repair instead of muddling over imaginary numbers.
The college-for-all idea is elitist, say career-tech proponents. With rising college debt and more film studies graduates working as bartenders, there’s growing interest in “middle skill” technical jobs.
President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have been talking up vocational education recently, but they want all students to have college-level skills, writes Simon. “Especially worrisome” is “the risk that low-income and minority students, as well as children with disabilities, could be pushed into the vocational tracks.”
New Mexico state Rep. Mimi Stewart, a Democrat, has introduced a bill to drop the Algebra II graduation requirement. “We are supposed to be doing college and career readiness, not college and college readiness,” Stewart said.
Indiana State Rep. Wendy McNamara, a Republican, wants to design a vocational diploma with input from local employers.
College prep has crowded out vocational options, argue The Jobs for Texas Coalition. “For 20 years, we’ve been ratcheting up the rigor required to get out of high school, and we started to see unintended consequences,” said Mike Meroney, a spokesman for the coalition.
Letting kids opt out of college prep doesn’t mean they’ll spend a lifetime flipping burgers, Meroney said. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists two dozen fast-growing occupations that don’t require higher education and pay $35,000 to $55,000 a year, including heavy equipment operator and car mechanic. “What is the real purpose of education if not to prepare your students for jobs?” Meroney said. “Seriously. That’s what we keep asking.”
While Texas has dropped the Algebra II requirement, Minnesota and Connecticut are phasing in Algebra II mandates, writes Simon.
New York set new college-ready benchmarks, but won’t expect graduates to be college ready till 2022. Louisiana is aiming for 2025.
“Six should be the new four,” says IBM executive Stanley Litow. At six-year high schools in New York City and Chicago, graduate can finish with a high school diploma, an associate degree and a job offer from IBM.
In Updating Career and Technical Education For The 21st Century, the Lexington Institute looks at the most effective models.
Career Path High, a blended learning model in Kaysville, Utah offering personalized instruction with externships and onsite CTE training.
Providence, Rhode Island’s Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center, through partnership with The Big Picture Company, is a national leader at tracking post-graduation outcomes and utilizing comprehensive data.
Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Brooklyn offers a 9th-14th grade high school/associate’s degree program aiming students toward post-graduation job opportunities with starting salaries at $40,000.
The new career-tech models try to keep the door open to college, often giving students the chance to earn community college credits that can be applied to an associate degree or, eventually, to a bachelor’s.
Career tech could be sidelined by Common Core standards and tests, worries Anthony Carnevale, who runs Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce. “In theory, the Common Core says, we just want you to be able to do a certain set of things, we don’t care how you learn it. But when I look at the assessments, basically it looks like very academic kinds of learning goals to me.”
Competency-based education is super-hot — but what is it?
Texas won’t require all high school graduates to pass Algebra II, reports the Texas Tribune. Of five new diplomas, only the honors and STEM diplomas will require advanced algebra. The school board feared struggling students would drop out if they saw no realistic pat to a diploma.
Only half of the state’s high school graduates go directly to college, writes Sophie Quinton
Rather than a recommended four years each of math, science, and social studies, Texas students now need just three credits in each and must take five end-of-course tests rather than 15. Students will be able to earn “endorsements” in areas such as public service, arts and humanities, and business and industry. The State Board of Education is currently debating which endorsements will require Algebra 2.
Florida is rolling back college-prep-for-all requirements passed in 2010, writes Quinton. Students who take Algebra 2 and either chemistry or physics will earn a “scholar” diploma, while those who earn one or more industry certifications will earn a “merit” designation.
Sixteen other states have made Algebra II a graduation requirement, she writes. So far, they’re staying the course.
Once a state has multiple high school diplomas, it makes a lot of sense to create a college-prep diploma, a vocational-prep diploma and a basic diploma for those with minimal skills. People worry that fewer disadvantaged students will go to college. I think more will earn a degree if they’ve chosen the academic track. And those who choose the technical/vocational track will have a decent shot at success.