Education for Life
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There was a fascinating piece in the New York Times today about public high school finally waking up to the fact that their graduates leave school without the skills needed to be successful in our economy. It is about 20 years too late, but at least someone in the public education environment is acknowledging that there is a connection between public secondary education and our economy â and that there is a core obligation on the part of schools to give students the skills they need to obtain â and keep â meaningful employment.
The thrust of the article is about pushing many more kids to go to four-year colleges. That is certainly part of the solution, but there are others. We could start by increasing the rigor of public high schools and injecting value, again, in a high school diploma. We then also need to expand other post-secondary opportunities for gaining needed skills. (Community and vocational colleges have historically been the one segment of the American educational system that actually cared about what skills local employers look for.)
I am not one to dump all of the responsibility on teachers or school systems. Parents â and the kids themselves â have to care about education more than anyone. The days when a strong back and a willingness to work would give you a stable middle-class lifestyle have been over for a long, long time. People who arenât highly proficient in English and Math will not have a place in our future economy -- full stop. That isnât âelitistâ or âexclusionaryâ or anything other than the truth. We all have to absorb that fact and make the hard personal and policy choices that are needed to prevent the creation (or, maybe, expansion) of a permanent underclass of people who have not been given the skills they need to âpursue happinessâ in this country.