College and Career: (Or, Should It Be...College and/or Career???)
We do a lot to prepare students for college. We offer Advanced Placement courses, we prepare students to take the SAT and the ACT. We provide information about scholarships. We hold College Fairs. We allow students to take college courses while in high school--and earn (both) high school and college credit; we call this "duel-credit".
We also do a lot to prepare students for careers. We invite speakers to come to schools to talk about their work. We have a Career Technology Center that prepares students for many different careers from Cosmetology to Carpentry to Engineering (and lots more). We help to set up students in internships during the summer and (sometimes) during the school year.
We do our best to honor our commitment to both college-bound students and career-bound students.
The struggle comes as we try to make one set of rules for both of these populations. Particularly academic rules. Here is a recent article that questions if college is appropriate for everyone. And here are some statistics about jobs with the potential for growth in the next ten years--and the amount of education needed for them.
The real issue of concern is for the population of students that are weak academically, but very strong artistically--or they have a talent that doesn't require high levels of knowledge in math and science such as Culinary Arts or HVAC or writing fiction. How should the public school system account for these students in our policies regarding high school graduation requirements? That's a tough question.
We know that earning a high school diploma affords our young people many advantages that are not available to people without a high school diploma. Therefore, we take great strides to ensure that the opportunity to earn a high school diploma is available to all students. But over the years, our efforts to increase the high school graduation rate in the United States have led to too many students who graduate from high school who are not ready for college (as seen in this graphic about college graduation rates in the fifty states of the United States). So, in response to this concern, we have raised the standards so that high school graduates are better prepared for college.
And so we are left with this difficult balancing act. We want everyone to graduate from high school and we want everyone to be ready for college--if they choose to go to college. Public schools serve everyone; and sometimes "serving everyone" leads to difficult decisions. We know that education is the gateway to a better life for everyone and we take that responsibility very seriously. Some students go directly to college and some go directly to careers, but all students need to be College and Career ready.