Monthly Archives: September 2013

“College and Career Ready”

I’m really struggling with this phrase College and Career Ready used so frequently and easily throughtout the state of Tennessee especially in light of the attack on “career” type CTE classes — many of these classes being eliminated/reduced across the state. Some view and define the phrase as a charge to make sure that students are ready first for college and then after college ready for their career. Other educators (and here’s where I fit in!) see the phrase with two distinct charges; the preparation of students to be College Ready and preparing students to be Career Ready
College preparation is both the function of using CCSS to help students gain and understand subject knowledge in preparation for college level work, but also the task of understanding the “how” college functions. The fact that most classes do not meet everyday, that one class may be on the other side of the campus, what a “lab” class is, dorm room living, and the list goes on. How well do we prepare our students for college? How much do they understand about the process, the link between a future career and the degree required for that career? Using the Counseling and Postsecondary School Culture barometer from NYC schools, it is very interesting to see how infrequently we as professional educators “counsel” our own students in college expectations. The belief is that this counseling must be done somewhere along the line, someone other than me is responsible, the guidance office must take care of all of that. However, as this pulse of the school sampling often reveals, is that no-one is guiding our students on their future path when it is everyone’s responsibility not just the guidance office.
Career preparation on the other hand is two-fold: Those on the college path must understand the requirements for their chosen future career and those who elect to go into the existing workforce need to understand the how-to of interviews, professional dress, and resumes to mention a few skills. Realistically step back and look at the graduating class and estimate how many will go to and complete college, and how many will either drop out, enter the work-force directly, work and go to a tech school, enter the military, and then ask yourself how are we preparing the students for this “career” path? Are our students really “Career Ready?”
I’m worried about Tennessee. I’m concerned that we are focusing too much light on the college path that we are neglecting the path that many of our students will take. In so doing we are slowly eliminating those “career enhancing” classes like cosmetology, carpentry, plumbing, auto work, electronics, that we are pulling the “career” rug out from underneath a large population of students and forcing them into college level classes where they will not be successful.
If anything we need as much focus if not more on the Career Ready part of the phrase than ever before. We need technical school information, we need hands on CTE classes to teach the reality of math and business classes to demonstrate the requirement to be able to read and understand non-fiction because life is non-fiction. These needs are required life skills, not optional and “Career Ready” classes need as much focus as “College Ready” classes. Come-on Tennessee, let’s take back the lead in school-to-work education.