“All throughout high school, they made it sound like going to college was our only option,” says Derrick Roberson, a 17-year-old high school graduate in southern California. Vocational classes were seen as second-class.As an educator I'm bothered by the view that every high school student should be planning for college. For those that can't or don't want to go, we in education send this message: If you don't go to college, one of the very first big decisions you'll make as an adult is a mistake. And of course it is, right? All of us teachers went to college and we turned out just fine, so college is the best and only way for you to turn out just fine, too.
When did high school become 100% academic? Heck, my district is planning to increase graduation requirements in math so that students will have to pass 3 years of math to graduate. On what planet does that make sense?
It makes sense if you have the mind set that everyone should go to college--or, if you're smart enough to realize that not everyone can or should go to college, you have the mind set that everyone could go to college if they wanted to. We even have a phrase for this: "college and career readiness". As if those two are the same thing.
My letter carrier fulfills an important role in our society--but he doesn't need any college for that. My UPS driver also fulfills an important role, but he/she doesn't need college, either. The grocery store checkers don't need college. The guy who installs stereos in cars at Best Buy doesn't need college. Most people don't need college at all, and lead valuable, important, decent lives in America.
Don't intentionally misinterpret my words and say that I believe that people should stay where they are and not "move ahead" (if that's what college does) in life. That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that it's silly to think that everyone wants or needs college, especially right out of high school. Some people will "grow into" college over the years, they're just not ready at 18. Some won't ever need it.
Everyone talks about "trade schools" but I'll bet if you asked high schoolers what a "trade school" is, a very large percentage can't tell you what one is. They probably even see commercials on tv for some (truck driving school, medical/dental/vet assistant schools, computer schools, HVAC schools) but couldn't identify any by name, and wouldn't even recognize that those schools are, in fact, trade schools. We give lip service to trade schools because they're not "real" college.
Derrick Roberson, quoted above, is calling us out on our "classist" views. How many in education will listen to him?