Today brings us a new Seattle Times editorial on education. "Thinking beyond 'college for all'" by Lynne Varner says that education reformers are right to promote college for every student, but they should adopt a broader definition of college, one that includes post-high-school credentials other than baccalaureate degrees.
Of course, this is what Shep Siegel has been saying for years. And I have been saying it as well ever since I heard Dr. Siegel say it. So, welcome to party, Ms Varner. Where ya been?
Here's the crux: every student should go on from high school to some form of post-secondary education - a four-year college, a two-year college, an apprenticeship, a vocational program, or some sort of training program. All of it is post-secondary education and all of it needs to be included when we think of "college" in the context of "college for all".
Unfortunately, too many people have too narrow a definition of college and they are cutting students off from access to Career and Technical Education opportunities saying that those classes are not geared towards "college-readiness". The math pathway of Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II may not be the college-readiness pathway for students who are pursuing a career in the trades. The science pathway of Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry may not be the college-readiness pathway for students pursuing a technical career. Since these are legitimate and honorable choices for "college" the District needs to legitimitize the high school pathways that prepare students for readiness for these paths.
Seattle Public Schools paid a consultant over $750,000 to go through the entire catalog of high school courses and remove all of the courses that were not geared towards "college-readiness". Unfortunately the consultant used a very narrow definition of "college" and a lot of practical classes were stupidly removed from the catalog. These classes were of value to students pursuing post-secondary education outside of four-year universities.
Seattle Public Schools published a "Math Pathways" document that neglected to include a number of CTE classes that qualified for dual credit as math courses. Students need to know about these classes to take them, but the District worked to block that access.
Likewise there are a number of other practical classes in a variety of disciplines that are not part of the pathway to four-year university, but would be well-suited to other post-secondary education. These classes should be available for the students who would benefit from them.
The Board allowed this narrowing of focus, a narrowing that left a lot of students outside of their rightful place. The students were forced to take classes they didn't want or need (and that did not suit them) instead of the ones that they did want and need (and did suit them) due to the narrow, elitist perspective of education bureaucrats who do not respect any path other than the one they followed.