Sunday, April 10, 2011

College For Everyone: No. College Bound Education, Yes.

In 1973, only 28% of jobs in America required some form of college education. By 2018, 63% of jobs in America will require some form of college education. Many of our low skill jobs have been outsourced due to cheap labor; Americans need to be “worth” their pay which is why many highly skilled jobs remain in our country and require degrees.

I know some people just aren’t “college material” and so I am quite annoyed when schools push “everyone to college”. I’m also weary of the P-16 or P-20 (Preschool to “grade” 16 or 20..meaning college) because that means even more government control of education for even longer.

However, why can’t we offer a rigorous, college bound level secondary school for ALL students regardless of their future? Isn’t NOT offering this robbing them of the ability of, and the access to, great knowledge?

Do we just “dumb down” the curriculum for the non-college bound kids? (I feel we do).

Just because they are not college-bound does not mean they are dumb or deserve less.

My own father barely finished high school and never went to college but he is one of the most intelligent people I know; he can speed read and is a walking encyclopedia for everything related to plants, animals, and Native American tribes…so much so that he will write the editor of a book or magazine if they have an incorrect fact! However, my dad barely squeaked by in school and never was challenged and I can only imagine where he’d had gone in life if he had a “college bound” education.

I want to see our schools offer a private-elite-school-level of education to ALL. While social efficiency folks would scoff at this, claiming it is a waste, is empowerment through knowledge, the joy of learning, the understanding of the world or at least the offer of these things, ever a waste? How can they have the audacity to think this a waste? An education as I propose would have high expectations (with support to get there), include real life lessons, innovative and creative collaborative projects and reports, some self-guided learning….the list goes on.

But here’s the problem; it will never happen because historically, our education system has not been set up this way and so a belief that it should not be as I propose has become institutionalized. Diane Ravitch wrote, in Left Back, “progressive educators considered it a misguided elitist effort to impose a college preparatory curriculum on everyone…[ignoring] individual differences and social needs.” (Individual differences and social need sounds like a politically correct way of saying the dummies and unfit, those who will go nowhere in life…and socially, we need some dummies as not everyone can be a hoity toity intellectual elitist, nay nay….)

Every educator should be livid. Last time I checked, teachers teach to enlighten, empower, and encourage the best of our students. I know I certainly did not become a teacher to pick and choose who I’d give the best education to.

In reference back to the quote from Ravitch, call me naïve, an elitist, what you will, but as an educator I want the best for every child, and I am in the classroom to awaken them all to the endless joy of learning and no one is going to stop me, even though I must battle the system at every step.

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