Monday, February 14, 2011

Guidance Counselors Have A Tough Job

According to an article this week in the Baton Rouge Advocate, a BESE task force is attempting to insure that school guidance counselors have the opportunity to devote the time necessary to do their job of guiding and counseling students and thereby improving the graduation rate. The point was made that many of our guidance counselors spend so much of their time doing “menial” jobs at the school such as sponsoring the prom, that they don't have time to help kids with career guidance and personal problems etc. What many people don't realize is that many teachers are expected to do “menial” jobs such as sponsoring dances and selling tickets at ball games after school hours. More emphasis is needed on the really important function of our schools which is to prepare students for the demanding job market facing today's young adults.

The point was made by professor Jennifer Curry from LSU that guidance counselors need to have time to help students make the connection between school and careers. Unfortunately, many counselors told us in response to a survey recently that many students have a big problem seeing the connection between the curriculum in our schools today and their potential careers. That's because most of what we offer students in high school today is not suited to their career needs. By spending so much of the schools' resources attempting to prepare all students for 4 year colleges we shortchange both the true college bound and non-college bound students. This one size fits all curriculum also causes many students to drop out of school.

Our guidance counselors could do a much better job of motivating students to work hard and succeed in school if they had something better in the curriculum to sell. For example, New Orleans and other urban areas have a serious shortage of skilled workers for everything from health care to auto mechanics, plumbers and electricians, yet the school system is still trying to prepare everyone for college. How has the public school system succeeded in this mission? The recent statistics tell us that only half of the students graduating from the Recovery District in New Orleans took the ACT test prior to graduating. Of those taking the test in that system, the average score was 15. That tells us that those students are not qualified for anything, much less college. Who can blame them for feeling let down by the school system when they go out looking for a job?

As I keep repeating in this blog, we seem to be obsessed with preparing students for the wrong future! We can keep patting ourselves on the back and pretending that our Core 4 curriculum is just what we need to restore value to the high school diploma, or we can face the fact that our students need other choices . Potential employers and industries thinking of locating in Louisiana want workers with job skills not just book knowledge.

1 comment:

KGD said...

Thanks, Mike, for putting in writing what some of us have said for many years. Do you think the career diploma is a start in the right direction? Yeah, I know we have to reeducate a large portion of the lawmakers...especially if they are joined at the hip with the "reformers".