Tuesday, July 05, 2011


My recent email about schools tracking how many of their graduates enter college and earn four-year degrees triggered a number of emails from people saying maybe that shouldn't be the be all and end all.  For example, here's entrepreneur and documentary film producer Bob Compton, with whom I collaborated on A Right Denied (www.2mminutes.com/products/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=20):


I have been getting deeply involved with the DC public schools since I moved back to the city a year ago.


The closer I get to the kids in DC, the more I wonder why we don't have a truly robust curriculum for the kids who are just not going to attend college. The kids I see dropping out have interests and skills that are not covered in college - yet they are in demand in the economy.


You'll recall 45% of Finnish teenagers leave high school with an array of skills that lets them enter professions that pay well and offer career growth (see the education paths further down). DC kids feel they are on a forced march to try to get into college. And anything else is utter failure and something to be ashamed about. No national figure is encouraging those who want to pursue the career paths below.


I know I'm treading in blasphemous territory when I say many kids would be better served with a strong vocational program. This is not to sell those kids short, but rather to meet their needs and interests more effectively for a life of success.




1- Technology

         typical trades: machinist, electrician, process worker, computer repair



2- Social sciences, business and merchandise

         typical trade: retail management, customer service, general business


3- Health care and physical therapy

         typical trade: practical nurse, physical therapist, surgeons assistant



4- Natural Science

         typical trade: IT and Internet services



5- Travel, catering and hospitality

         typical trade: hotel management, institutional catering



6- Rescue and security

         typical trade: policemen, prison guards, EMT and firefighters.



7- Humanist and educational branch

         typical trade: youth-director, social worker



8- Cultural branch

         typical trade: artist, performer, musician, comedian



9 - Natural resources and environment

         typical trade: farming entrepreneur, forest worker, farm management

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