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Making technical education programs a reality
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12, 2014 17:06 PM

Politicians, public officials, teachers and school administrators who support the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) place a lot of emphasis on phrases like "career readiness." Some education advocates believe that career readiness should have a broader definition that encompasses technical education as well as college preparedness. If the leaders of the states' education departments can agree on this issue, a lot of people might change their minds about the effectiveness and reliability of the Common Core. 

Committing to the American youth
The current manifestation of the CCSS leads people to believe that the goals of the Common Core remain focused on giving K-12 students the tools they need to become successful in college and the workforce immediately after high school. However, the reality of the situation is that most U.S. high school curricula lean toward college readiness, leaving those who do not want to pursue a bachelor's degree without any viable employment opportunities.

This bias toward post-secondary education does an injustice to a large portion of American students who remain ignorant of non-college-attending success stories. According to Education Week, about 27 percent of skilled laborers who only have a postsecondary license or certificate earn more than college graduates with bachelor's degrees. In a study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 12.6 percent of the 1.3 million people who graduated in 2011 claimed to be unemployed. The rate of unemployment stayed the same the following year. These facts should be considered when a person makes a decision as important as what career path to enter. 

Valid technical programs for postsecondary career options
A movement within the academic community wants to transform the way people make career decisions after high school by changing the way the public perceives career readiness. Advocates of technical programs believe that strong and deeply committed secondary programs geared toward career and technical education will be the next step in truly preparing students for the future. However, effective technical programs are mainly in the testing phase. They still exist on the strength of school budgets, and require partnerships with local industries and corporate decision-makers. Trade programs also need the support of respected trade associations, as they lack the kind of outreach resources necessary to bring in interested students and qualified teaching professionals. Despite these challenges, the rise of career and technical programs in the education reform discussion is an opportunity for political and community leaders to show they have faith in the Common Core and the validity of genuine career readiness.