Instead of training high school students for specific careers, provide “career-relevant” education, writes Dana Goldstein.
. . . we don’t want to limit working class kids to these often low-skills, low-pay jobs. Instead, we should advocate for more creative curricular connections between school and various places of employment.
At Tech Valley High outside Albany, every student pursues an internship in January, reports The Nation.
This year, one teen shadowed an Amtrak engineer riding the Northeast Corridor; another interned at a local graphic design firm.
The flexibility of Tech Valley’s career curriculum—students can choose an internship that matches their interests, from baking to computer coding to marine biology—goes a long way toward scrubbing away the stigma of CTE as the “slow track” for working-class kids with few options. Every academic subject at Tech Valley is organized around projects intended to introduce teenagers to potential occupations. A history class worked alongside local attorneys to put Christopher Columbus and other European explorers on mock trial for decimating Native American populations. For a unit on pH levels, biology students worked with employees of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to collect Hudson River water samples and test whether the river was safe for swimmers.
Students can see how classroom learning can be used in the world of work, without being limited to a specific occupation, Goldstein writes.