“Major overhaul” of U.S. education to offer more technical, vocational pursuits recommended

November 8, 2011  |  No Comments  |  by Barney Bishop  |  News

St. Petersburg Times – February 3, 2011

Wake up and good morning. One of the consistent gripes I hear from the Florida business community (and Florida teachers) is how our traditional education systems does not offer enough technical or vocational options for young people who may not be disposed to pursue (or be the best candidates for) a college education.

That argument gets reinforced this week with the release of a two-year study at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. The current U.S. education system is failing to prepare millions of young adults for successful careers by providing a one-size-fits-all approach, and it should take a cue from its European counterparts by offering greater emphasis on occupational instruction, the Harvard study concludes. The study by the Pathways to Prosperity Project — formally called Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century — notes that while much emphasis is placed in high school on going on to a four-year college, only 30 percent of young adults in the United States successfully complete a bachelor’s degree, the New York Times reports in its coverage here.

The same coverage also quotes Florida business lobbyist Barney Bishop (photo, left), head of Associated Industries of Florida, saying he would advocate for an approach that provides more alternatives and greater inclusion of the business community. “The problem for the business community is where you have kids who don’t have the rudimentary skills, and you have to take the time and effort to train them, get them some of the rudimentary skills, plus the special skills,” he told the New York Times.

According to Pathways to Prosperity Director William Symonds, the “one size fits all” model that characterizes American education typically encourages students to earn bachelor’s degrees. But the percentage of Americans who actually earn bachelor’s degrees by age 27 is still quite small — only 30 percent. Meanwhile, 42 percent of the nation’s 27-year-olds have no more than a high school degree.

Says Symonds: The American education system needs a major overhaul. Read more about the study here and here.

And here’s the full 45-page study. Now we’re on to something.

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