Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How the career diploma can work

There's been a lot of huffing and puffing about how the new career diploma will dumb down education. But if it works right, career education can save kids in danger of dropping out and put them on the path toward rewarding and fulfilling occupations.

That's the hopeful note sounded in this article by Associated Press reporter Doug Simpson.

As one mother of a high school junior who is taking a small engine repair course puts it, "College is my plan for him. But I'm glad that he'll have skills, that he'll be ready for the work force, if he doesn't go to college. This is not dumbed-down school, it's not easier. It'll just be different, more practical."

Speaking of practical, the reporter observes a student in a welding class who is learning, along with the metalworking skill, how to calculate angles, estimate costs, and write invoices and estimates.

These are the same academic skills the student would be learning in a traditional classroom, but with real-world applications that shift education from the abstract and toward the concrete. It might not be what all students crave, but certainly could be part of a healthy diversity in the way we approach raising our state's dismal dropout rate.

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