Shouldn’t Education and Training Lead to a Career? 1

The District of Columbia’s economy is thriving, but not all residents benefit from the boom in development. In a few years, three-quarters of all jobs in DC will require some postsecondary education. Yet over 60,000 District residents lack a high school diploma or equivalent degree, and many don’t even read at the level required to access training programs.

We believe that every DC resident deserves a family-supporting job with career opportunities. We believe that the way to get there is for the District’s workforce system to invest strategically in our lower-skilled residents and better target the needs of District employers. In other words, we need a new paradigm.

We wrote about this last April in our policy brief, From Basic Skills to Good Jobs: A Strategy for Connecting DC’s Adult Learners to Career Pathways. Now, a new policy brief that we developed as part of coalition of local experts, Charting the Course: An Opportunity to Improve Workforce Development in DC, presents recommendations to our newest policymakers for a successful economic development strategy based on a “career pathways” framework. For more, read Deputy Director Judy Berman’s blog on Huffington Post.

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One thought on “Shouldn’t Education and Training Lead to a Career?

  • Erich Martel

    In August 2010, I was involuntarily transferred to Phelps ACE HS. Although I was a social studies/history teacher, I have actively followed national debates about math and science standards and student STEM performance. Having grown up with parents with professional skills (my mother, a nurse; my father a tool & die maker) and worked in my father’s machine shop after school and on weekends and summer, I was intrigued to see what the recently renovated Phelps offered. The problems were quickly evident:
    1) Students who want to pursue a trade have to also meet a college prep curriculum; Some bright students who didn’t want to take the college prep classes and go right into trade prep (e.g. welding) were discouraged;
    This is despite the fact that many (possibly most) older adults believe that the old vocational system should be restored (knowing full well that there were abuses of tracking in the past, but also knowing how many men and women learned skills and trades that made them self-supporting.)
    2) The principal was more interested in supporting students learning Chinese than learning a skilled (“career-tech”) trade;
    3) Students’ math skills were very poor. Math teachers reported that they could not cover all of the Alg 1 and Alg 2 standards, because so many students were deficient (and these were students in an application hs). The plumbing teacher told me that he has to teach students how to use a rule. That’s just one example.
    There are two main reasons for math deficiency:
    a) Math is taught in inefficient ways that don’t require mastery: rote mastery of basic procedures is derided;
    b) Students very quickly figure out that their teachers, not them, are the ones responsible for their learning.
    c) Gimmicks are emphasized over mastery. Students in the “engineering” pathway take a course called engineering. They made models with popsickle sticks, etc.
    Erich Martel