Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Path to a four-year college shouldn't be only route to a career

Tougher standards are being proposed for Ohio schools, according to a Sunday Dispatch article. When are politicians and policymakers going to get that educational standards, per se, may not be the root cause of Ohio’s seemingly less-than-effective public education system?According to a recent study released by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century, our current education system places far too much emphasis on a single pathway to success: attending and graduating from a four-year college after completing an academic program of study in high school.But only 30 percent of young adults successfully complete this preferred pathway, despite decades of efforts to raise the numbers.The study goes on to state that it is long past time that we broaden the range of high-quality pathways that we offer to young people, beginning in high school. Students who are bored and at risk of dropping out need to be more effectively engaged in their education. They and their parents need to know that there are navigable pathways leading to rewarding careers in the mainstream economy.Ohio has one of the most comprehensive high-school and community-college career and technical education systems in the nation, with an enviable record of placement in gainful employment. Yet under the proposed standards, the focus is still a single pathway to success: going to college. And under the new tougher standards, schools are to be measured and graded based on a four-year college-preparatory curriculum.  According to the article, Gov. John Kasich said it’s time to be honest about school quality. I couldn’t agree more.  But honesty must reflect the realities of the day, and Ohio deserves a public-education system that more accurately accommodates the education and economic needs of the state. We currently have a 19th-century public-education system being led by 20th-century politicians and educators for 21st-century students.


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