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Louisiana Advances Career-Pathway Bill

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The Louisiana legislature is wandering down an interesting path in reshaping its high schools. This week, its House Education Committee unanimously approved a bill that would let 15-year-olds diverge from the standard academic curriculum and concentrate their studies in trade skills such as auto repair, receiving a "career option" diploma that is different than the state's standard diploma.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Senator Robert Kostelka, argues that this approach would help cut the state's dropout rate by carving a more suitable pathway for many students. But he and state schools chief Paul Pastorek have butted heads on this approach. The blunt-spoken Pastorek has said the proposal would put "dummy diplomas" in the hands of too many teenagers.

Kostelka's bill, SB259, which cleared the Senate unanimously on May 13, is scheduled for floor debate in the House next week. I'm afraid I can't link you directly to texts of his bill, and to its companion measure in the House, HB612. But you can look them up here.

And while you're at it, leave a few thoughts here on my blog about all this.

For my money, what Louisiana is sorting out plows right into the heart of the growing debate about what we should want and expect from our high school students. Do we want them all to go to college, or at least be prepared for college?

And what should we make of those who argue for another, more career-oriented option for teenagers? It seems to me that the advocates of this view are enduring some real slings and arrows in these debates. Does their argument amount to old-fashioned tracking in drag, in which "those kids" are encouraged to pursue trades, and "these kids" are urged on to college? Or is it a key voice of sanity amid a rising "college-for-all" push that could be misplaced for some kids?

Come on, I know you have views on this. Weigh in here.

3 Comments

As a teacher of 17 years, I applaud the effort by the Louisiana Senator. Every child is NOT bound for college. Those who are likely capable of succeeding in college, but do not have the financial means flounder in "Kinder"Colleges (i.e. - Community Colleges) and likely become disinterested long BEFORE they find the means to afford a chance at attending school full-time and pursuing a 4-year degree.

Should the goal be that immigrant children, or the children of drop-outs be prepared for college ??? Or, should the goal be that THEIR CHILDREN be the first generation to attend college??

I was raised in Appalachia. My grandparents arrived in America and sent my parents to school. My father did not finish the 8th grade before having to go to work. My mother graduated high school and actually went to college later in life. My BROTHERS and I, were the first generation to attend and succeed in college straight out of public school.

If we want to break the cycle of poverty and low achievement by minorities.... we must provide one generation with realistic goals... will some succeed in college... absolutely !!
Will MOST be ready and able for such rigor.... still waiting on that to happen.... in the meantime... there needs to be an alternative.

What the Louisiana Senator is doing... is giving kids, with disinterested parents, a life-line.

While unfortunate, its likely the Senator's good idea will be watered down as is the case here, in Florida. Our former governor tried the same approach, only to have Democrats threaten to filibuster the bill.

The Compromise: Students must pick a "Career Pathway" in which they must pass one ELECTIVE per year that falls within the realm of the potential, future career..... it has already become meaningless.....

For instance... A high school student who has chosen "Law" as a career pathway can pass "Introduction to Drama" and will be considered to have achieved a "Law" Career Pathway Elective credit.

Let's do a little math. First, what are your chances of finishing college once you start? According to the Associated Press (2005), only "54 percent of students entering four-year colleges had a degree six years later." You can go to a state college for $10,000 per year. You also lose a significant amount of income those 6 years, say $7,000 per year working for McDonalds. For 6 years that is $42,000 in lost income plus $60,000 in tuition, etc. For about a $100,000 you get a 50/50 chance of graduating. Unless you are on scholarships or mom and dad are paying, you better be in the upper 25% of your graduating HS class.

When I left the high school I taught at, the school had dropped 40 sections of Applied Arts classes and added 1 AP class to the 15 they already had. Is something wrong here?

Am I the only one reading this legislation to mean that a career major diploma prepares you for entry into a career or a two-year college program?

It sure looks that way to me.

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  • David Wakelyn: Am I the only one reading this legislation to mean read more
  • Tom Layton: Let's do a little math. First, what are your chances read more
  • Rory T. Sponsler: As a teacher of 17 years, I applaud the effort read more

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