Everything Old is New Again
There is an amazing research study that is going on at a Baltimore County high school. The school has introduced an HVAC training program for kids that don’t want the full vocational school and want a career that does not necessarily include college. I cannot imagine how they thought that up. Someone must have been reading old Baltimore County yearbooks. Fifty years ago, all Baltimore County high schools had a vocational component that was separate from the County vocational schools. Of course, in those days there were also three separate high school diplomas. People weren’t burdened by the egalitarian notion that all students are created equally.
Of course, they are not. The PARCC tests are supposed to measure a student’s readiness for college and careers. But the only careers that today’s educators seem to care about are those that require a college education. Many students do not have the academic acumen to do college level work. We address that issue by burdening students and colleges with zero credit remedial courses for which students pay college tuition but do not receive college credits. Many other students are just not interested in a math or language based career. Too bad about that; the wise elders (and politicos) have determined that college is good for everyone whether you want it or not.
The article about this great experiment references a girl who was thinking of dropping out of high school because she just didn’t see the relevancy of the program to her life. Then she started the HVAC training program. She loves it and is learning the skills to go to work in the HVAC industry with starting salries in the 60-70K range, about what a starting lawyer makes if he/she can find a job in law, and more than a starting teacher. Oh, and she won’t be burdened by college debt.
Our democracy would not be threatened if we allowed for human difference. Democracy should make everyone equal in the eyes of the law. It cannot make everyone equal in skill and talent. We cannot do that by decree either. Everyone can’t learn the same things and everyone does not even want to learn the same things. Wouldn’t it be nice if we went back to the good old days where we recognized and accepted that as part of human difference? Ok, not everything in the past was cool. I won’t mop my floor wearing heels, make-up and a nice dress. Smart people hold onto the best of the past while embracing the good of the future. Differentiated diplomas and curricula were great ideas that were. Too bad they went.