Thursday, July 05, 2018

Well-Meaning Pavestones On the Road To Hell

At first glance, this doesn't sound so bad--or does it?
If states want to make it easier for students to reach the middle class, they should follow Louisiana’s lead when it comes to the expectations for earning a high school diploma.

As a recent report by the Center for American Progress shows, Louisiana is one of just four states where the coursework requirements to graduate high school match the coursework required to for college eligibility. What’s more, Louisiana is one of only two states where the coursework requirements include high-level science and math, three years of study in social science, and two years of a single foreign language — the same coursework that most public universities require.

The implications are clear. States need to make two changes to their graduation requirements: strengthen them and ensure they meet what’s required for public university admissions.
What's clear, or at least what should be clear, is that not everyone needs to go to college, and no society on the planet will function the way it's envisioned when all members have a college degree.  Somebody has got to prepare that double-soy latte, and that person doesn't need a degree.  Someone has to stock the grocery store shelves, and that person doesn't need a degree.  Someone has to deliver your packages, and that person doesn't need a degree.  Someone has to work in the mall, and the vast majority of those people don't need a degree.

In other words, it's silly to push for everyone to have a degree.

But we're not saying everyone needs a degree, what we're saying is that everyone should have the option of getting one if they want one--that's the counter.  Of course, that argument is just as silly.  Do we really believe that everyone is capable of earning a university degree?  I don't.  And that's just fine.  Not everyone needs a degree to signify competence--when the guy at the shop tracks down and fixes the battery drain in my new trailer, I pay well for that.  And he doesn't have any student loans, either.

What this "higher graduation requirements" drive does is pressure teachers to lower standards so that students will pass.  It encourages "credit recovery" programs that allow a student to jump through a few hoops and "pass" a course in 2 weeks that they couldn't pass in 36.  It allows elected officials and school district personnel to pat themselves on the back for "improving standards" when they've in fact done just the opposite.

Do you really want to improve the quality of high school graduates?  Make high school less academic.  Bring back vocational education programs, and yes, even "home ec".  Bring back some of those courses that young adults now pay for and call "adulting" classes.  And quit trying to make home ec and voc ed square pegs fit into the round hole of "college". 

I come from California, which has a very extensive community college system.  Anyone who wants to can take CC courses, and they're reasonably priced.  But let's please stop pretending that everyone needs or should go to college.


David said...

Today i got a flat tire. The aaa guy had nexk tattoos, smoked when he got out of the car, and didnt speak english well (not an immigrant).
However, he did fix my tire very quickly. Did he even need a high school diploma to do the job? Of course not. Does he need algebra or geometry or know how to write an essay to do the job? Of course not. Most of the jobs in the US don’t. The guy was happy with his job because it pays the bills and he doesnt need to use his brain. Plus he can go home at night and not worry about work.

Mike Thiac said...

My sister has 4 boys and a girl. The oldest, Christopher, has the least education, he's a high school graduate. And he makes more than his three brothers combined. He's a senior surveyor, started construction when he was 19, and now has received tens of thousands of dollars of training at no cost. If he quit his current employer right now, he would talk into a 6 digit salary.

A good friend of mine went the vo-tech route and eventually got a CDL. The endorsements on his license are half the alphabet, he name it, Scott can haul it. One day I asked him how much money has been spent on his training over the years. He thought for a minute and answered, "At least a quarter million..." And Scott paid nothing for that training.

For many, college is a waste. Select the right career field and you can make serious money.

lgm said...

This is not about the students, its a full employment program. High school is being stretched out thru 14th grade. The adjuncts at the CC, for the most part, are the same high school teachers that used to teach the courses, back when the high schools offered the same content in their own courses.

If you make high school any less academic, you'll have people graduating at the age of ten. That's all it takes to pass the English Regents Exam here, its been watered down that much. Then what? They are already made to wait until they are 16 to get math after Alg. 2 via Dual Enrollment. Who is going to hire an 11 year old for vo-tech work, when the jobs they would need at 14 are already taken by adults?

We need some incentive on company creation. Or some willingness by people who don't want to train for book work to do manual labor.

Ellen K said...

The worst part is the way parents, counselors and recruiters conspire to push kids who are not academically skilled or prepared into college. Many of these kids have parents who fear that if they don't get a degree, they will be unemployed. Some of these parents are delusional, thinking that college will impart skills and organization which the students don't possess. In some cases that works. In many others the kids go to college a couple of years, goof off, get on academic probation and then drop out. They party too much, work too little, but without a degree they still rack up student loan debt. What is especially galling is to hear recruiters from big name school luring students who really cannot afford the cost, to take on huge student debt. These people tell the kids to "bet on yourself" and that they will make more on the difference in income to cover the loans. That is simply not true, but many kids buy into that delusion.