CEO

May 6

What is the Logical Starting Point for Students?

An obsession with getting into college for its own sake has reached the ultimate absurdity:  “college” is now being characterized as something entirely distinct from “careers”.  The following are now commonplace phrases:  preparing students for college or careers, college-ready vs. career-ready, career and technical education.

Despite putting lifelong learning at the head of the class, dropout rates in both high schools and colleges remain high, rejection of national standardized testing is growing and soaring college costs are breaking the backs of students, parents and the economy.  Meanwhile, the perennial misalignment between the nation’s actual economic needs and what schools prepare students for only grows deeper.  A recent Gallup-Lumina Foundation survey reported in the February 28 Wall Street Journal that only 11-percent of business leaders strongly agree that today’s graduates have the skills and competencies that their businesses need.

I submit that the cure for the deepening failures and costs of education and the vast disconnect between employer needs and education in America must begin at the philosophical level by reversing the Charlottesville Summit priorities and putting productive employment first.  Stated simply, the first purpose of education should be to prepare all students for productive careers with career success becoming the first metric of school performance.

The logical starting point is to have schools, students and parents begin at an earlier age to evaluate career aptitudes and interests, so that by their junior or senior year all high school students will be equipped with a personalized career pathway plan that details the educational requirements (college or otherwise) needed for success.  For their part, business and government must ensure that students, parents and school counselors are provided with current, accurate information on the wide variety of career pathways available in our diverse American economy.

This post is part two of a series on the purpose of education, click here for part one

-Leo Reddy, CEO, Manufacturing Skill Standards Council

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