i willa attch file read and respond before you do read the instruction first must be 250 words at least
To begin this assignment, compose your Response 1 by addressing the following requirements:all of the assigne , but respond to only one.
In the opening sentences, give the author’s full name and “Essay Title” in a complete sentence.
Give your reactions, opinions, and thoughts about the material.
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Remember to title your response.July 4/11, 2011
ahead, most of which have been successful. The group has also
effectively pushed BCC to become more involved in buying
back distressed homes.
When the discussion section of the weekly meeting ends,
the organizers lead a shout-out. “What do we do when the
banks attack?” they ask their audience. “Stand up, fight back!”
100 people roar. “What do we do when the banks attack?” The
audience members rise up out of their seats, fists clenched and
pointing skyward. Grossman and his students stand too. “Stand
up, fight back!”
The Great ‘College for All’ Debate
Should our educational system focus more on preparing working-class kids for actual jobs?
by DANA GOLDSTEIN
Dana Goldstein, a Nation contributing writer, is a Puffin Foundation
writing fellow at The Nation Institute and a Schwartz Fellow at the New
ing from poverty into the intelligentsia within
a single generation—call for a more practical
approach to educating the poor, with a focus
on technical skills that prepare a child for the
world of work?
The Harvard report—warmly embraced
by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan—set
off a storm of criticism from self-declared
education reformers, who rose to defend the
“college for all” approach. “While I agree that
all students could benefit from more exposure
to the world of work, I vehemently disagree
with the [Harvard] authors’ main argument:
that we already tried preparing all students for college and it
didn’t work,” wrote Kati Haycock, president of the Washington,
DC, think tank Education Trust, which focuses on closing the
achievement gap and was a major player in advocating for No
Child Left Behind and, more recently, the Obama administration’s Race to the Top grant program. “Most schools still resist
the idea that all kids can and should be college-ready. By continuing long-standing, unfair practices of sorting and selecting,
they create what is essentially an educational caste system—
directing countless young people, especially low-income students and students of color, away from college-prep courses and
from seeing themselves as ‘college material.’”
RiShawn Biddle, education columnist for the conservative
magazine The American Spectator, was even harsher. Writing on
his own website, Dropout Nation, Biddle accused the Harvard
researchers of barely concealed racism. “The 52-page report
wrongfully perpetuates a century-old philosophy—that poor
and minority kids aren’t capable of high-quality, college-level
education—that is condemning far too many young men and
women to poverty and prison,” Biddle wrote.
In fact, it was Booker T. Washington, in his 1901 autobiography, Up From Slavery, who made the seminal case for
vocational education. “One man may go into a community
prepared to supply the people there with an analysis of Greek
sentences,” he wrote. “The community may not at that time be
prepared for, or feel the need of, Greek analysis, but it may feel
its need of bricks and houses and wagons.”
Two years later, writing in The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B.
Du Bois famously accused Washington of opposing “the higher
training and ambition of our brighter minds.… For this is cerTIM LANE
n June 8, President Barack Obama
visited Northern Virginia Community College. He rolled up his sleeves
and tooled around under the hood
of a hybrid car that students were
learning to repair. Later, he gave a speech on
the importance of more Americans gaining
access to higher education—not just at fouryear universities but at community colleges
and occupational training programs too.
“The goal isn’t just making sure that
somebody has got a certificate or a diploma,” Obama said. “The goal is to make sure
your degree helps you to get a promotion or a raise or a job.
And that’s especially important right now.”
The president’s remarks departed significantly from the “college for all” rhetoric that frequently dominates the education
policy debate. That conversation burst open in February, when
the Harvard Graduate School of Education released a report
called “Pathways to Prosperity.” The report noted that of the
47 million American jobs expected to be created between now
and 2018, about two-thirds will require some sort of education
beyond high school, yet a much smaller proportion will require a
four-year college degree. About 14 million of these new jobs will
be in “mid-skill” occupations that require just a post-secondary
certificate or associate’s degree: jobs such as dental hygienist,
construction manager and electrician. Such occupations can provide a path into the middle class; indeed, 27 percent of workers
with occupational licenses earn more than the average recipient
of a bachelor’s degree.
In the context of an economy where unemployment hovers
above 9 percent, and the job outlook is particularly bleak for lowskilled workers—those who, in previous generations, would have
depended on the now-decimated manufacturing sector—these
projections brought new urgency to an old debate, one that has
divided American social reformers for more than a century. Do
poor and working-class kids have the same need for a liberal arts
education as their middle-class and affluent peers? Or does the
reality of inequality in America—the sheer unlikeliness of climb-
July 4/11, 2011
tain,” wrote Du Bois, a great promoter of the university liberal
arts, “no secure civilization can be built in the South with the
Negro as an ignorant, turbulent proletariat.”
In the early twentieth century, the comprehensive high school,
offering both college-prep and vocational tracks, emerged as a
compromise between these two ideologies, intended to sift the
academic wheat from the chaff while offering adolescents a
more engaging, hands-on curriculum. In many ways, this model
was extremely successful: as millions of working-class immigrants flooded into American cities, the public school system
offered acculturation and English skills, while also providing
teens with job training for the then-bustling manufacturing
economy. In 1900, just 6 percent of Americans graduated from
high school; by 1969, partly because of tracking policies that
offered less academically demanding courses, nearly 80 percent
of all Americans had earned a high school diploma.
But as soon as the vocational track was introduced, thorny
social justice problems emerged. Girls and African-Americans
were directed into low-paid clerical jobs and less skilled, nonunionized occupations; think shorthand instead of auto repair.
University of California, Los Angeles, education researcher Mike
Rose has found that a Depression-era study of high school welding programs in eighteen states discovered only a single black
student enrolled. Though this type of rigid tracking was mostly
phased out by the 1980s, de facto tracking by race and class
remains a feature of many high schools, with low-income and
minority students far less likely to enroll in Advanced Placement
or other college-prep courses. Research by sociologists Jennie
Brand and Yu Xie has shown that with the decline of the manufacturing economy, the students who have the most to gain from
a four-year college degree are the same disadvantaged students
least likely to attend college, in part because they are counseled
into less demanding courses throughout their school careers.
hese realities, however, must be balanced against the
often toxic combination of rising higher education costs,
aggressive marketing of low-quality for-profit colleges to
low-income young adults, and staggeringly high college
dropout rates and student debt loads.
Just 53 percent of students who enter four-year colleges
graduate within six years. At two-year community colleges,
half of all students drop out before their second year, and only
25 percent finish their programs within three years.
One fifth of all students who borrow to pay for college drop
out, and nearly one in five who drop out leave only after accumulating $20,000 in debt.
Working-class parents understand the risks of too much
debt for too little education—and are hungry for alternatives.
Polling of low-income New Yorkers by the Community Service
Society of New York has found that 90 percent believe high
school vocational training would be a good educational option
for their own children.
David Jones, the organization’s president, grew up in a black
family that emphasized intellectual achievement above all else.
He graduated from Wesleyan University and then Yale Law
School, and sent his children to elite colleges.
But Jones says that in the midst of a recession, these poll
results “got me off my high horse. People at the base get it and
are desperately concerned about their young people. Johnny
gets out of high school and basically can never leave home. He
doesn’t have a skill that is in need except as a service person at
McDonald’s. This is a dialogue we have to take on.”
Amid these difficult truths, some progressive education
reformers have attempted to move beyond the old emotional
debates about tracking and expectations, and are sounding the
call for a more intellectual version of “career and technical education,” or CTE, one that infuses traditional vocational training with the academic rigor and ethic of college prep. “You can
teach any given subject at multiple levels,” says Samuel Lucas,
a University of California, Berkeley, sociologist and author of
Tracking Inequality: Stratification and Mobility in American High
Schools. “You can teach people how to fix a car where you talk
about turning the screw. At that level of knowledge, they could
get a job. But you could also teach them, well, what are the principles by which this combustion engine is working?”
hat’s the type of education teenagers are getting at
Aviation High School, a public school in Long Island
City, Queens, that Arne Duncan praised in an April 19
speech. When I visited the school in February, Noel
Adames, a high school junior, taught me not only how to
weld but how welding works.
“Here, put these goggles on,” he said, thrusting a pair into
my hands as he led me through one of the school’s more than
forty bustling laboratories. Noel explained that a welding torch
uses two types of gas: oxygen and acetylene. Together they heat
up to an astonishing 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. When the gases
are in the correct proportion, we’d see two flame “zones,” Noel
said, the outer and inner cone. That’s when we’d be ready to
fuse together two iron plates clamped in a vise.
I was overwhelmed by all this information and scared of
the bright orange flame, but Noel reassured me. “We’ll do it
together!” he offered, demonstrating the technique.
A member of ROTC, Noel spends his mornings preparing to
become an FAA-certified aircraft mechanic, learning the fortythree skills—from welding to air-conditioner maintenance to
electrical wiring—required to service planes and helicopters. He
spends his afternoons in traditional academic courses, including
one college-level class, and will graduate from Aviation’s five-year
program with a New York State Regents diploma. His ambition
is to attend the Air Force Academy.
“If you understand how the inside of the plane works, it’s a
whole other level of being a pilot,” he says. But if that doesn’t
work out, Noel’s FAA certification will qualify him for a union
job that pays about $55,000 per year with benefits, and could
help him finance a college education.
At the policy level, the problem is that Obama and Duncan’s
verbal support for career and technical education comes
unmatched by any serious funding commitment to replicate
schools like Aviation High. In the recent budget negotiations
with House Republicans, the White House agreed to $137 million in cuts to the Perkins Grant programs, the primary federal
funding stream for vocational education. But even before this
belt-tightening, neither of the administration’s competitive edu-
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July 4/11, 2011
cation reform grant programs—Race to the Top and Investing
in Innovation (i3)—encouraged applicants to build curriculums
in which young adults are given the hands-on training they need
to enter a specific career. And although some i3 grant winners
will use the federal dollars to improve instruction in the STEM
fields—science, technology, engineering and math—the administration has put very few resources behind programs that develop
students’ capacity to use STEM skills on the job through apprenticeships and internships, as opposed to just in the classroom.
Workforce development advocates say it is hard for politicians
to champion vocational programs because of the field’s troubled
history. “Talking about ‘science’ is much more appealing than saying ‘career education for struggling kids,’” says Nancy Hoffman,
vice president of the advocacy group Jobs for the Future. “It
would be great if we could get rid of the stigma of CTE.”
One school attempting to do just that is Tech Valley High
School, on the East Campus of the State University of New
York, Albany. The public school was created in 2005 by a special act of the state legislature, part of a larger, long-running
effort to revive the economy of the troubled upstate region.
Tech Valley admits, via lottery, just forty ninth graders per year
into one of the most innovative CTE programs in the country:
every student pursues an internship during January. This year,
one teen shadowed an Amtrak engineer riding the Northeast
Corridor; another interned at a local graphic design firm.
The flexibility of Tech Valley’s career curriculum—students
can choose an internship that matches their interests, from baking to computer coding to marine biology—goes a long way
toward scrubbing away the stigma of CTE as the “slow track”
for working-class kids with few options. Every academic subject
at Tech Valley is organized around projects intended to introduce teenagers to potential occupations. A history class worked
alongside local attorneys to put Christopher Columbus and
other European explorers on mock trial for decimating Native
American populations. For a unit on pH levels, biology students
worked with employees of the New York State Department of
Environmental Conservation to collect Hudson River water
samples and test whether the river was safe for swimmers.
Of course, there are downsides to CTE programs like those
at Tech Valley and Aviation high schools. Most obviously, they
are expensive. Both schools rely on private funding to provide
an extended learning day: Tech Valley benefits from foundation
dollars, while Aviation partners with local colleges to pay teachers
overtime for offering instruction outside the workday mandated
by their union contract. The longer day is difficult for kids too,
and Tech Valley and Aviation have fought student attrition. Only
twenty-eight of Tech Valley’s first incoming class will graduate
this spring, though administrators say 90 percent of subsequent
classes are on track to graduate. The typical Aviation freshman
class of 500 to 525 dwindles to 400 graduates four years later.
With Washington pulling back on CTE funding, there is
little hope for large-scale efforts to improve and replicate ambitious programs like these. The saddest part is, they are needed
now more than ever. “The recession has helped us in terms of
people understanding why this type of education is important,”
says Stacia Snow, a Tech Valley social studies teacher. “Workers
have to be flexible, and they have to be creative.”
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