Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Real Reform That Provides Career Opportunities for Our Students

I hope all my readers will go to the following link to read about The School Standards Rebellion.

According to the article in Politico, this is what is now happening in Texas:

"Parents furious about the state’s heavy focus on standardized testing teamed up with educators irate at the one-size-fits-all curriculum. Then an even more powerful ally stepped aboard: The Jobs for Texas Coalition, representing trade groups and businesses that collectively employ 6 million Texans, a third of the state’s workforce.

The coalition argued that the college prep curriculum eats up so many hours — especially when kids fail a required class and must retake it — that students have no time for vocational courses that introduce them to skilled trades. That’s led to fewer students seeking out jobs in construction and manufacturing. Those who do apply lack the technical training and the soft skills — such as on-the-fly problem solving — such classes nurture.

“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.”

We tried to do the same thing they are talking about in this story in Louisiana four years ago with the adoption of a law providing for a career diploma. The problem is that the powers that were in charge of Louisiana education at the time, namely State Superintendent Paul Pastorek did not like the career diploma. He wanted instead to push college prep for all and later the move to the Common Core. So Pastorek used the regulations of the DOE and BESE to suppress the career diploma in every way possible. His main weapon was the use of school performance scores and the letter grading system for high schools that rewarded mostly college prep efforts. The result is that only about 2% of our students currently graduate with a career diploma. At the same time, only about 20% of our students are successful in our 4 year colleges.

So now we find that one of the biggest industrial expansions in history in Louisiana is catching us flat footed. I happen to agree with this position paper from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. This is a direct quote from the LABI position paper:
"LABI will support efforts to enhance the Career Diploma, increase the use of TOPS Tech, bring more relevant course offerings into middle and high schools, and partner with community colleges and industry to get the credentials and training right."
I think its really ironic that LABI has been supporting the LDOE sabotage of the career diploma for the last 4 years. Now they are shocked that our students are not being prepared to do the skilled jobs coming to Louisiana. Our high school graduates are coming out of school with almost no skills to compete for the thousands of high paying jobs that are being created in everything from construction projects, to plant operations and even to a boom in health care services. This means that if we do not move quickly, our expanding industries will be importing thousands of skilled workers from other states and even other countries. Many of our high school graduates who graduated in the vaunted Core 4 curriculum but who are still not equipped to succeed in 4 year colleges may be relegated to serving fast food to the imported workers.

I am asking my readers and our legislators to please consider supporting the necessary revisions of the career diploma and changes in DOE regulations to reward schools that make these important opportunities available to their students. The job of boosting the career diploma to provide meaningful skills training to thousands of students will be especially difficult because Louisiana's "college prep for all" policies have decimated the ranks of CTE teachers at the high school level.

Watch for more information that will appear on this blog soon about efforts to revive the career diploma. It's time we give our students true career choices for the great jobs coming to Louisiana.


Anonymous said...

Hallejuah! Finally, someone making sense. The jobs that are availabl in Louisiana DO NOT require a college degree. SO why are we pushing kids to colleges? is it just to inflate someone's ego? We are not Boston or New York. We are blue collar, hard workong people who need NECESSARY skills to succeed in the LOUISIANA labor force. Not global, right here in Louisiana.

lbarrios said...

Mike - Have you read the Jumostart proposal? I am shocked and amazed that You see education as a workforce development tool but that you have discarded all that we have seen transpire under the guise of "education reform." Those who I have heard repeatedly disparage the idea of preparing our children to "compete in a global economy" - would you now reduce that to preparing our children to "compete in the local workforce"? Whether your choice is public school, private school, parochial school or home school do you really believe that a "formal education" should be diluted or diminished in exchange for job training skills?

Now don't interpret this as some elitist position that everyone must go to college in order to be successful. None of my children went to college but are "self made men and women" who overcame the obstacles placed in front of them. But keep this in mind, when standardization of standards and curriculum, a diminished appreciation for literature and the arts, and an overinflated importance is placed on COMPETITION, our children's futures will be bleak and unfulfilling. When they gain those "high paying" skilled jobs that VOCATIONAL education will offer them but not developed a sense of self and the value of the ability to think for oneself, be creative and communicate in our evermore diverse society (or, no, maybe it will be an every more standardized society!) woe is us!!!!!

Believe me, Jumpstart is not designed with the interests of our children in mind. It will further reduce funds available for EDUCATING our children classically and divert your taxpayer dollars to business and corporate interests who are perfectly capable of developing their own "workforce." People, we are talking about ending a system of PUBLIC education that attempts to provide the opportunity for GREATNESS and to find REAL MEANING in life to each and every child. We must preserve it!!!!!!!



"As the great majority of our children are being educated in public schools, it is all-important that the standards of citizenship should be of the best. Whether we send our children to private school or public school we should take a constant interest in all educational institutions and remember that on the public school largely depends the success or the failure of our great experiment in government "by the people, for the people."


"The value of education is to ignite the spark that develops creative thinking skills and the value of reasoning for yourself. EdEducation teaches and prepares children and youth to meet the future needs to function in a society not only academically, but emotional, socially, spiritually and economically.


Michael Deshotels said...

Thanks Lee. I value your opinion, but I believe you have incorrectly interpreted my support for career education to be some kind of capitulation to the forces of "corporate reform". Our push for the career diploma started long before the Common Core developments across the country. To set the record straight, the career diploma gives students an option to college prep for all. It does not deprive any child of a classical education, and the law is written so that a student can change his curriculum back to college prep at any time he/she chooses. This concept was supported by professional guidance counselors in our schools. I am sorry if John White happens to support the idea, but that does not make it a bad idea. It is simply an opportunity for many of our kids and their parents to benefit from the opportunities in our state.

Anonymous said...

Shocked by what? Wanting my child to have a useful education instead of a piece of paper with NO value.

I do not understand the argument of "preparing children for the workforce." AND why does it have to be one or the other?

"But keep this in mind, when standardization of standards and curriculum, a diminished appreciation for literature and the arts, and an overinflated importance is placed on COMPETITION, our children's futures will be bleak and unfulfilling. When they gain those "high paying" skilled jobs that VOCATIONAL education will offer them but not developed a sense of self and the value of the ability to think for oneself, be creative and communicate in our evermore diverse society (or, no, maybe it will be an every more standardized society!) woe is us!!!!!"

So, we should continue to funnel children into useless degress such as liberal arts and women's studies which have little to no value in the job market but make a "more rounded student." How dare you say that preparing a child through vocational studies will not develop their sense of self! How small minded are you?

My son not only gained invaluable training he also gained confidence, intelligence and leadership skills through that lowly vocational training. This is something he NEVER would have been afforded at a 4 year college.

You should choose your words a bit more carefully.

Also, just because thoughts and ideas come from someone you may disagree with does not make them illegitimate.

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you a story of a blended family. Although my family is very college-bound/white collar for its young ones, their dad's family is more workforce-bound/blue collar. Although we fought tooth and nail to get the stepsons to embrace the TOPS tuition program and give college a whirl, their dad's family won them over in the long run. Both boys can read, write, and do math (very well, I might add)...but have found these skills don't really pay them too many dividends in the workforce. They have been turned down for job after job because they lack skills using this education to build/construct/sell/produce.

Mike is not on a campaign to lower standards...he is on a campaign to empower our children to come out of high school able to earn a living wage. Demanding higher standards may not be as prudent as demanding USEFUL standards.

Everyone is on a mission to improve education, but the call for higher standards has turned into a rhetorical nuisance. We should be on a mission to institute the right standards.

Keep yelling it from the rooftops, Mike...someone who can make a difference may start listening.

Anonymous said...

none of this matter if the science education they receive is so dumbed down or non-scientific and based on someone's religion. It is a bad sign when a teacher in Caddo parish feels comfortable in writing to the editor and stating she teaches creation-based science and her religious beliefs and Louisiana can't vote to teach science and evolution and to promote the Next Generation Science standards due to religious conflicts. Really? It is 2014, we "say" we want 21st Century Schools but science is based on 15th century practices? The rest of the nation thinks we are a joke as far as science and we actually expect companies who need educated workers to come here? Kids can't tell time on a clock with hands, can't read the Constitution because it is in cursive and even when given a ruler do not know the difference between metric and English measurements????? Parents have no problem giving excuse after excuse for kids who do not finish assignments, miss school constantly and are so disrespectful the teacher can't even teach, yet they pitch a fit if their child isn't getting an A? Parents show up ready to do battle when a child answers "God" for every multiple choice answer on a test on Newton's laws and gets a zero and call the teacher an atheist for trying to teach science?
The focus of concerns is on the symptoms of the problems too much and ignoring the complexity of others.