Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Different diplomas for different folks

I am often scornful of public education reform ideas, but Governor Bill Ritter of Colorado is proposing something that might actually make some sense.

Colorado high school students could choose from three routes to graduation: a "governor's" diploma for the college-bound, a workforce-ready distinction or a diploma with certification in plumbing or mechanics.

That's one of the options Gov. Bill Ritter's office is proposing as his task force on education reform meets today for the first time...

Ritter stressed that "multiple pathways to graduation" is only an idea and that he wants his P-20 Council - which will study reform from preschool to graduate school - to look at anything that might work.

The 29-member group includes teachers, superintendents and college presidents. By mid-November, it plans to pre sent Ritter with policy recommendations that could turn into legislation next winter...

Ritter's diploma-option plan has some similarities to a model put forth in "Tough Choices or Tough Times," a national report that generated buzz among education reformers in Colorado.

The report from the National Center on Education and the Economy calls for allowing students who want to attend community or technical colleges to test out of high school by passing a statewide board exam after 10th grade. Students headed for top universities and colleges would stay in high school until 12th grade, and students who failed the statewide board exam could take it in following years.

Bruce Benson, an oil-and-gas businessman and co-chairman of Ritter's task force, said he's "for getting people educated to their highest potential."

"Not everybody is cut out to have a bachelor's of science or master's of liberal arts," said Benson, former chairman of the board for Metropolitan State College of Denver. "Some people would be a lot happier being the best diesel mechanic in the world."

I've heard many people--from other teachers I respect to Celine Dion--say that school isn't for everyone, and this idea seems to go along with that. My one concern is that I have seen kids who were mired in mediocrity in high school, and then suddenly in their junior or senior year turned things around and ended up going to college and doing well. Those are some of our greatest success stories, and a program like this might make that impossible. Nevertheless, I think an idea like this makes a lot more sense than one proposed by Minnesota Governor, Tim Pawlenty, last year. He proposed something to the effect that each and every student should have at least a year of college courses under his or her belt in order to graduate from high school. I think of some of the kids I work with every year, and I can only say, "Yah, right!"


Blogger CrypticLife said...

I feel like we discussed this previously even on this blog, didn't we?

Seems like a good idea, and might even make a high school diploma worth something again. I don't think the certification option should necessarily be limited to the non-college bound, though. It would be nice for kids who are college-bound to be able to get certificates in something, as well. There are certificates in all sorts of things, from computers to paramedic training to accounting.

I understand your concern, but I guess I'd be interested in what those kids "mired in mediocrity" in their first couple of years would have decided? Testing out of school would presumably be optional, regardless of how well one was doing in high school. I imagine the ones who weren't doing that well would self-select themselves into tech/vocational programs. It might also relieve responsibilty on their parents, who instead of ending up with an unemployed 18-year old lounging about the house, could end up with an 18-year old who's working and preparing to move out.

8/07/2007 2:14 PM  
Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

I too find this an interesting idea. Let's remember a lot of people go to college after a few years in the workforce. It could work!

8/07/2007 2:24 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Crypticlife, I'm pretty sure I've never done a post on this particular subject, but I've done a number of them on what to do with high school kids who don't care about school. I'll bet you're thinking of the one about making the GED more meaningful.

8/07/2007 5:37 PM  

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