College or Bust? Ed Reformers Should Offer More Choices.


This blog was sparked by an article from the Hechinger Report, After Decades of Pushing Bachelor’s Degrees, U.S. needs more Tradespeople.  Reading this article made me subsequently begin my mind to churning and thinking about the way I have seen education play out over the recent years. Let’s just be practical about this debate. Among almost all of us, we know a handful of people who owe student loans whether they obtained a degree or not and honestly we know many people who have degrees who struggle to find work in their field of study. Many are underemployed and underpaid yet schools continue to push a monolithic form of post-secondary achievement.

According to the article,

The United States has 30 million jobs that pay an average of $55,000 per year and don’t require a bachelor’s degree, according to the Georgetown center. People with career and technical educations are actually slightly more likely to be employed than their counterparts with academic credentials, the U.S. Department of Education reports, and significantly more likely to be working in their fields.”

Earlier this year a group of high school seniors from Warren Easton Fundamental School and Grace King High School proved that academics and career path can both be beneficial whether pursued together or separately. In their case, they benefited from a dual enrollment program between their high school and Delgado Community College by earning their Electrician Certificate of Technical Studies one week before they graduated from high school. Sixteen of those students also made the national academic honor society by achieving a 3.4 GPA in the program

Delgado Community College says that “some of the class plan to go directly to work, some plan to continue at Delgado and some are heading to four-year colleges”.

Seeing that success, knowing what we know about educational options and data, I would like to ask advocates in the charter school movement, “Why have we been so one-sided on our support of what children desire to do after graduating from high school?

Why aren’t we pushing back against this mass herding towards a bachelor’s degree when it may not be the best option for all students? Is anyone looking at high student loan debt and the juggernaut of supposedly sufficient high school students using their pell grant money to pay for remedial courses which cause major financial hardships in the pursuit of a bachelor’s degree?

Ultimately I believe an education to be priceless and the pursuit of it to be a personal plight for every student individually. However being a practical man I know that the many experiences and guidance from adults often times shape the pathway and future of our children. I see it as a true disservice to the students of today to not expose them to the extensive amount of careers that are available to them. Are we developing open-minded critical thinkers by feeding them a singular path of achievement without vividly highlighting the various options that they can pursue doing their lifetime?

The charter school movement should weigh its options when it comes to presenting life decisions to its students and families. Maybe a diversification in their portfolio is needed going forward. A portfolio that is full of choices

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