Thursday, November 10, 2005

Is Your State Chamber of Commerce Out of Touch?

Many superintendents have observed that their state chamber of commerce representatives repeatedly take positions on issues that do not necessarily reflect the local chamber of commerce in their communities. There might be something to this.

Recently, I attended a community business and education forum in which the following statistic was quoted.
"Seventy percent of the jobs available in the future will NOT require a four year degree."
In addition, a graph was distributed showing the results of a round table discussion of community leaders who were asked, "What can education do to advance the interests of business? The most frequent response by almost 2 to 1? Give them graduates with "skills." From reading all their comments it is obvious that they meant soft skills and technical skills, not what most view as academic skills.

Meanwhile the state education policy, driven by business roundtables at the state levels, is driving almost all students to college preparatory tracks. Which has never been a "track" proven to emphasize technical or soft skills.

This might indicate that local business needs are at odds with the state chamber of commerce's view of needs. Meanwhile, the nation's governors are driving attempts to make high school more academically rigorous because they know that students that take more rigorous courses do better on international and national tests.

Students are getting mixed messages.

Disconnect?

2 Comments:

At Friday, November 11, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A thought -- something we are voicing in our community -- why not change the way high schools work. Yes, not all jobs will require a 4-year college degree. Yes, not all students should or want to go to college. Yet, you need a high school diploma to get a good job. Yet, our high schools are losing so many students because the schools are not meeting the needs of the students much less offering programs that the students are interested in....

So...why not make high schools more flexible. Offer a strong core academic program but bring back voc/tech; invite industry into the schools and have the high school students do the work so when they graduate they have marketable skills. Change the hours -- have morning, afternoon and evening sessions. So many students today need to work or take care of family. The high school structure of today does not allow this to easily happen. How about internships or apprenticeships. Some communities are letting kids take college level courses in high schools and get both high school and college credit.

It is time to revamp our high schools. They need a strong core academic program, flexible hours and voc/tech offerings.

Just my two cents worth --

Elizabeth

 
At Friday, November 11, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

Elizabeth,

You are on to something. Our alternative program is busting at the seams because they are open 12 hours a day, flexible hours and even Saturday morning hours.

In fact, the school used to be mostly students with discipline problems but now students whose lives have become more complicated due to a variety of issues, are choosing these alternatives.

I agree with you - we need to be open to more flexible schedules.

My experience is that currently the bulk of the students will still choose the more traditional approach mostly for social relationships with their peers.

 

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