One very important reason why parents should not force their children to go to college is to rescue them from a lifetime of student loan debts. I owe more than $200,000 in student loan debts, earned three degrees, and I earn $60 a day as a Substitute Teacher. Let’s get rid of the Department of Education, and allow states to develop high school curriculum that will prepare high school students for skills needed in the workforce locally or nationally. We require students to pass rigorous academic standardized assessments to graduate, but so many lack relevant job skills that employers demand.
High school principals in my school district earn around $90,000 annually. If I chose a career path that would lead to a school principal’s job, then paying off my student loan debts would be economically pragmatic. However, I will turn fifty-years-older on May 3, and will need to borrow at least $25,000 to complete a graduate program in school administration, adding to my already staggering student loan debts.
Replenish nurses using high school students/Waive student loans for subs
Public school districts should allow substitute teachers to receive student loan waivers if subs work a specific amount of days per year in inner city public schools. Regular certified classroom teachers who work in inner city public schools receive this type student loan waiver already in many states.
We need to make high school curriculum based on employers-readiness. Require all high school students to take a trade in skills that are in high demand by employers. For example, if you want to be a registered nurse, then high schools should offer Nursing Assistant certification programs. Students who complete the certified Nursing Assistant programs in high school, and graduate from high school, will be eligible to go directly to work in nursing after high school.
Nursing schools can then offer scholarships for full-time Nursing Assistants based on their work experience, grades in high school, professional development training, references and motivation to become a registered nurse. Create two-year RN programs that nursing assistants can complete online while completing clinicals while working as nursing assistants.
Birmingham City Schools: Inner City Schools with Global Potential
In the Birmingham City Schools publication Leading theWay(http://birmingham.schoolinsites.com,2008), it is reported that, “Our children deserve a great education, not just an adequate one. That means providing resources for the 27,751 students who attend our schools in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The following Career/Technical Education opportunities are available for every high school student: Plant Bioscience, Animation, Automotive Services/Technology, Collision Repair Technology, Computer Electronics Technology, Computer Technology and Information Systems, Construction Technology(Multi-Craft), Cosmetology and Barbering, Drafting Design Technology, Early Childhood Education, Finance, Food, Culinary Arts and Hospitality, Graphic Arts Technology, Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Health Sciences, Human Services, Management, Marketing, Television Technology and Cooperative Education.”
I believe that high school students should have the option to attend the schools which offer the type trades they desire to complete, regardless of zoning restrictions. Allow these students to be bused to schools where they can receive their best education and job skills according to student preferences. In college, students get the opportunity to choose your own majors. High school students should also have this career option. For example, in the Birmingham City Schools district, one high school offers Plant Bioscience, but does not offer Animation. Students should have the option to transfer to the school that offers Animation even if he or she is zoned exclusively for the school which only offers Plant Bioscience.
Replenish new teachers using high school students
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Education Association (NEA) should develop high school pre-Teaching programs. Students begin taking teacher education programs in grades 10th-12th in Classroom Management, Student Discipline, Technology for Educators, Special Education, Legal Issues for Teachers, Lesson Planning and core teaching skills. Allow high school students the opportunity to be mentored by veteran educators, and receive a certificate to serve as substitute teachers when they graduate from high school.
Allow these subs the chance to complete extensive professional development training annually in core teaching skills, educational philosophy, classroom management and technology. Those subs who complete a school district approved specific amount of professional development training and work experience as subs should be eligible to apply for full scholarships to pursue teaching certification from accredited online teacher colleges.
Instead of having only ten weeks of student intern training in a four-year traditional teacher college, subs can earn up to four years of work experience as a classroom teacher while subbing while receive core teacher training. Often, many teacher colleges require students to quit work to concentrate exclusively on up to ten weeks of student teaching. Under my proposal, subs won’t lose direly needed paychecks to complete student teaching.
Listen to Employers, not Politicians
Tom Robertson wrote in Minnesota Public Radio News(April 1, 2013) that, “Too many young people don’t get exposed to industrial technology careers available to them and thus have neither the awareness nor the training they might make good use of, say employers who are in hiring mode. Employers and higher education officials alike blame that for part of what they consider a skills gap.
In fact, there’s good money to be made in manufacturing. The average manufacturing salary in Minnesota is more than $56,000, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development. That’s higher than average for most other jobs in the state.
Even so, over the past few decades, high schools have dropped many technical trade courses.
“Parents want their children to go to college. You have to have a college degree to have a good job. And that’s not true anymore.”
– Theresa Schermerhorn, human resources manager, Graphic Packaging
“Industry needs us so bad we just can’t produce enough. I can place these students many times over, very good paying jobs.”
– Ronn Redemske, machine trades instructor, Central Lakes College
It’s more practical to allow high school students the opportunity to earn an academic diploma and certificate of technical training when they graduate. Allow them to go to work after graduating from high school, and allow employers to offer these employees scholarships to go to college online, evenings and weekends to pursue degrees in their areas of specialization. Having a regular paycheck and opportunity to go to college with employer scholarships reduces the need for excessive student loans.