OK, so now they call it skills-based education, but the goals are the same as they were before some politically correct word-mongerer got involved.
Somewhere along the line from between when I was in school (slightly this side of the Pleistocene) and today, many education systems got taken over by educators who believed that dirt or grease under the fingernails were sure signs of a misspent youth and an unrewarding future. The sky’s no longer the limit,” they felt—not entirely without justification as the Apollo program demonstrate—“any boy or girl can become President.” Vocational training, if not actually frowned upon, stood well in arears of “feel good” curricula.
So it was with surprise and appreciation that I read the following press release from the Associated General Contractors of America this past week.
Skill-Based Training Will Cut High National Dropout Rate
Top Construction Official Says Skills-Based Education Programs Give At-Risk Students More Opportunities to Succeed During Launch of New Mexico Construction Charter School
High school dropout rates now reaching 80% in some cities could be cut significantly if federal and state education officials do more to develop public schools that teach skills like construction, the president of the Associated General Contractors of America said today. Noting that construction-focused schools are already delivering better results than comparable public schools in communities across the country, the construction official said students nationwide would benefit if those schools were more widespread.
"For too long, we’ve told students that the only path to success lies in mastering a standardized test, instead of acquiring practical skills," said Ted Aadland, the association's president of Portland, Ore.-based Aadland Evans Constructors. "By giving students an opportunity to master skills like construction that will win them good pay and earn them rewarding careers, we’re giving them another reason to work hard and another way to succeed."
Aadland made the call for greater support of skills-based education during the launch of a new construction-focused charter school in Albuquerque, N.M. He said student performance is higher at similar construction-focused high schools across the county that the association supports than at nearby public schools.
In St. Louis, for example, 92% of students graduate from the Construction Careers Center Charter High School, while only 72% graduate from the local city schools. Meanwhile students learning construction skills at Washington, D.C.’s Phelps Architecture, Construction, and Engineering High School and the construction academy in San Diego County, Calif., score significantly higher on their high school exit exams than their fellow school district peers.
The association president added that these construction schools are providing students with a better education experience and preparing them for successful careers for significantly less than comparable public school programs. In Oregon, St. Louis, Reno and Washington, D.C., construction-focused schools are graduating students for as little as 60% of the cost of other public schools, Aadland noted.
"Our education system and our graduation rates would be significantly better if schools like the one we are opening today were the rule, instead of the exception," Aadland said. Education departments need to do more to encourage, support, and finance schools like this, he added. Noting that nationwide the high school dropout rate is now 30%, Aadland added that "having a 30% failure rate is no way to run a business and it should be no way to run an education system."
Read Ted Aadland's remarks from the New Mexico charter school opening.
If there’s a construction charter school in your community, how about letting me know about it and its performance. If there isn’t, here’s an opportunity to make a difference by championing the idea to your friends, associates, organizations, and (egad) your school district hierarchy.