Friday, September 5, 2008

What is Educational and Career Success?

Even though I disagree vehemently with most of Charles Murray's writing, especially "The Bell Curve", he has written a piece on Work Wonk (The Workforce Development Channel) that I found very interesting. In "Leave This Child Behind", he writes eloquently about the importance of vocational education and the need for more support of Centers for Technical Education. Murray believes that the "No Child Left Behind" act is a failure because it creates a culture that if students don't go to college (Four-year college) they are failures. He argues that the k-12 education system disdains vocational education and educators drive students to the college track, even though they would be much more successful in the trades or middle skills jobs.

My favorite quotation in the article is the new definition of educational succes that Murray writes: "The goal of education is to bring children into adulthood having discovered things they enjoy doing and having learned to do them well. The goal applies equally to children who have the ability to be fine lawyers or physicians and children who have the ability to be fine machinists, cops, paramedics, computer programmers, waiters, or long-haul truckers. Educational success has been achieved when our children spend their working lives doing something that gives them satisfaction."

As we have written many times in this blog, Maine lags behind in filling middle skill jobs that the CTE Centers & Community Colleges prepare students for. Murray, again argues that educators, parents, and society in general must start respecting these important middle-skill professions. Murry writes, "In the quest to redefine educational success, we have a dragon to slay: The misbegotten, pernicious, wrongheaded idea that not going to college means you are failure. It deforms the behavior of all the actors in America's secondary schools-principals, teachers, guidance counselors, parents, and students....The high school student who sets out to become a machinist is making a choice as worthy as that student who is trying to get into Harvard. Such choices deserve our support and--this is imperative--our respect." I definitely agree that the CTE's and Community Colleges are very important and must be respected for what they help students do in their careers. The Work Wonk website is a great website for those interested in workforce development issues.

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