Thursday, June 16, 2016

Vocational Training

When it comes to college, I'm the opposite of a Bernie Sanders supporter--I don't think college should be free for everyone, I think fewer people should go to college. I've said before that if I were running the show, no one needing remedial classes in math or English would attend a university.  They'd get their acts together at community colleges and then, if they still think they need a bachelor's degree, they could transfer.

I also don't believe that everyone needs to attend a university.  It's educational malpractice to tell students that the path to success goes through a university; higher education is merely one possible path to success.

Joanne Jacobs has three consecutive posts on vocational training:
Kentucky gets real about career readiness
Kentucky has gotten real about career readiness, writes Hechinger’s Emmanuel Felton. High schools get the same reward for preparing graduates for “middle-skill” jobs as they do for preparing them for college...

“When the Obama administration made some federal funding contingent on the adoption of college- and career-ready standards, most states decided college and career readiness were one and the same,” he writes.

In Kentucky, however, schools are encouraged to create direct-to-career paths with expectations “focused on technical skills and the ability to find and parse informational texts and apply math in occupational situations.”
Job training doesn’t require college skills
Students don’t need college-level academic skills to learn marketable job skills, write Northwestern researchers James Rosenbaum and Caitlin Ahearn.

Occupational certificates require 8th to 10th grade-level math and English, according to community college faculty in California and Illinois.
From special ed to the workforce
After years of “inclusion,” only two-thirds of special-ed students earn a regular high school diploma. Those with intellectual or developmental disabilities are even less likely to complete high school. As adults, most are unemployed or underemployed.

Now, “specialized workforce academies for students with intellectual/developmental disabilities are growing in popularity,” reports Alia Wong in The Atlantic...

Workforce academies are controversial, writes Wong. Some critics value inclusion above all. Others complain “the programs pigeonhole severely disabled students into a vocational path and as a result never encourage them to consider college.”

Some colleges offer special programs for intellectually disabled students, she writes. However, these focus on social skills, not preparing students for jobs they might be able to do as well as anyone.
If nothing else, these programs are more honest, and humane, than telling students who don't go to college that essentially they're failures.


Pseudotsuga said...

Mike Rowe for President!
As a college instructor, I agree with these assessments, even though my union disagrees. But I can clearly tell that the union is about "solidarity" rather than actually helping students. The voting recommendations from the American Federation of Teachers are useful; they tell me who to vote against.

Ellen K said...

The idea that everyone has to go to college has forced the hand of community and state colleges to offer remedial coursework for those who have high school diplomas, but who don't have high school academic skills. This is largely driven by the need for Federal programs in order to sustain other programs within the schools. Instead of offering rigorous vocational programs that offer a real career path, high schools have eliminated most vocational programs and instead fill student schedules with courses that do not prepare them for employment. Not every person is suited for college. And not every job requires a college degree in order to be filled. It used to be a high school diploma was good enough, with training, for a skilled job. Now only a college degree is a ticket to interview and even at that, it is only the choicest among the grads who are selected. This leaves far too many college grads with too much debt and having to work piecemeal jobs.