Techniques Magazine Techniques April 2011 : Page 15

“THE pROBLEM iS THAT NOT ALL STUDENTS HAvE ACCESS TO THAT HigH-qUALiTY EDUCATiON. SO WE NEED TO MAkE A MUCH BiggER NATiONAL EFFORT TO MAkE THOSE OppORTUNiTiES AvAiLABLE TO ALL STUDENTS, AND NOT JUST TO THOSE WHO ARE LUCkY ENOUgH TO LivE iN A DiSTRiCT THAT ALREADY HAS HigH-qUALiTY CTE.” you raised that. The fact is that we do have tracking in America right now. And the most pernicious form of tracking is the high school dropout problem. Students who are struggling in high school often don’t get the help they need, and they end up dropping out. We lose more than a million high school students every single year. And unfortunately, those students are tracked into a life of enormous frustration and often failure. What we’re saying is we need to develop a broader, more holistic approach to education and youth development. And we think one result of that would be a dramatic drop in the dropout problem. ACTE: What are some of the strategies that the report recommends for success; for broadening these pathways? WS: Well, I already discussed the issue of trying to improve career coun-seling. A second issue, which is certainly important to all the members of ACTE, is an emphasis on really improving the quality of career and technical educa-tion (CTE) in the United States. And, you know, when we released the report on February 2, we were fortunate to have Education Secretary Arne Duncan there to deliver some remarks. His remarks focused specifically on the issue of why it’s so important to improve the quality of CTE. And he noted in his remarks that we already have some great examples of high-quality 21st century CTE in the United States. The problem is that not all students have access to that high-quality education. So we need to make a much bigger national effort to make those op-portunities available to all students, and not just to those who are lucky enough to live in a district that already has high-quality CTE. ACTE: Does the report give any way forward on that? Is this a legislative task, to build these better examples of CTE programs? WS: We’re really advocating systemic reform in education. And I think that this is a movement that can involve almost everyone, whether it’s a parent or a stu-dent or an individual teacher, an entire district, the leaders in a state, and even the federal government. So I think there’s a role for everyone to play. I think it’s go-ing to require legislative changes. We also recommend a concerted effort at the local and regional levels to bring together lead-ers to develop better pathways for young adults in their region. ACTE What about the problem of the stigma that’s associated with community colleges and with CTE? What about getting around that? WS: That’s why we think we need to rethink education in this country. Our report points out that in many countries, vocational education is actually highly regarded. And in countries like Switzer-land, vocational education is actually the mainstream system. In Switzerland, for example, two out of every three high school students are actually involved in vocational education. So that’s the dominant form of education, and it’s not looked down upon the way it is here. I think we also have to realize that most forms of education in the U.S. ultimately lead to careers. Even students that go to Harvard, for example, most of them end up going to law school, medical school, business school. And at all those places they’re actually getting career education. They may not call it that, but that’s what’s actually happening. ACTE: What other responses has the report gotten? There’s been great excitement in the CTE community. WS: Well, I think the report has struck a real chord based on the initial response we’ve gotten. We’ve already heard from organizations in more than 10 states that want to invite us out to give presenta-tions, and in some cases actually organize full-day conferences to discuss the report and how it might be implemented in their states or regions. So I think that’s a very encouraging sign. We’ve been contacted by members of the media from through-out the country, not just the East Coast, but all across the country. And we’re also getting lots of individuals who are reaching out to us. I think this is going to kick off, hopefully, a very extended conversation about the way we’re ap-proaching education in the United States and whether or not it’s time to adopt a different approach, really a broader ap-proach that’s going to serve a lot more of our young people. To download the report, “Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century,” visit . To listen to the podcast of the full interview with William Symonds, visit www.acteonline. org/podcasts.aspx . Want to make a difference? Provide students with the safety knowledge that can save their lives and make them more competitive in the job market. How? Purchase the National Youth Safety Initiative ™ CareerSafe ® Online interactive, web-based OSHA training program, and give them the opportunity to earn their Federal OSHA 10-Hour Cards , for only $18 per student . 1 Youth at work is... Killed Every 5 Days Hospitalized Every 7 Minutes Injured Every 2 Minutes April 2011 Techniques 15

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