Thursday, October 27, 2011

Our Achievement Gap Stems, in Part, From Our Fixation on the Achievement Gap

I just today read an excellent article in The Washington Post on Kosen, Japan's special polytechnical schools that accept students as early as 15, give them five years of vocationally oriented technical training during what would  be our high school and junior college years, and then watch them leave with an average of 20 job offers per new graduate; if they stay an extra two years and earn a diploma roughly equivalent to a master's degree, the ratio goes up to 30 job offers per graduate.

I also read today that the percentage of young Americans aged 20 to 24 who are employed has shrunk from 74 percent in 2000 to just 62 percent now, the lowest since the 1930s.

Our obsession with having our young people correctly fill in bubble sheets is severely underserving our youth. Some of them, like my own children, do pretty well on such tests, and generally still turn out all right; others, like the many I taught at Locke High School in Watts, have almost no good options available to them; and well-meaning educational leaders who moved to end (rather than modernize) their vocational programs because "each and every student is expected to go to college" have unwittingly promoted a disaster. 

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