College readiness misleads taxpayers

Public schools are largely being evaluated on the percentage of students who are prepared for college (“DeBlasio’s empty boasts about graduation rates,” New York Post, Jan. 30).  The latest example is New York City, home of the nation’s largest school district.

Although 75.9 percent of students who started in public schools there graduated, only half met CUNY’s standards for admission. The disparity between the two is seen as evidence of failure.  But where is it written that college is for everyone?  What about taking into account students who have no interest or aptitude for college?

More specifically, I’m referring to vocational education.  Students who want to learn a trade and take courses in line with that goal should be given equal weight to students who want to go to college in evaluating schools.  But vocational education continues to take a back seat to an academic curriculum. This does a terrible injustice to both students and their schools.

I’ll bet that the percentage of students who graduate on time after taking a vocational curriculum would far exceed the percentage of students who graduate on time after pursuing an academic curriculum.  Yet we completely ignore vocational education in this country.  Our competitors abroad are far more realistic.  For example, Germany accords vocational education the same respect it confers on academic education.  It’s little wonder that Germany has the lowest unemployment rate among young people in the industrialized world.

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2 Replies to “College readiness misleads taxpayers”

  1. Agree strongly that the US should provide much more vocational ed and that it is a dumb mistake to press students to go to college simply so they can say they went to college (or the school system can brag about students going to college).

    But, I have a slightly different reaction to the fact that many NYC high school grads do not meet the admission standards for CUNY — which, I think although I’m not sure — are relatively low standards (this is CUNY, not SUNY).

    My guess is that many NYC high school grads are barely literate, particularly in English + have seriously deficient knowledge re subjects that voters must know about in order to vote intelligently and in order to be functional adults/parents. In other words, even (or perhaps particularly) students who are not going to college should, when they graduate from high school, should have mastered the basic skills/knowledge required of every adult. Bet that many of the NYC high school grads fail to meet this standard; if so, society will ultimately pay the price.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: I question whether students graduating from high school today in New York City could pass the Regents exams that prior high school grads had to. We can get 100% graduation rate if standards are lowered far enough. But what that prove?

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