“Hey, this would make a good show for Midmorning,” I hollered over the cubicle walls the other day while I was writing this post last week about the Governor’s Workforce Development Council proposal to the Legislature to require students to develop a plan for their future careers as early as the ninth grade. Some people say it’s not early enough; others say it pigeon-hole’s kids into a career track.
So Midmorning will take the first 45 minutes of the first hour of the show this morning to discuss the topic.
I’ll be in the studio live-blogging the program with Jim Bierma, lead counselor of Minneapolis public schools; Randall Hansen, founder of Quintessential Careers, a career development Web site; and Marc Scheer, researcher, educational consultant, and career counselor with a Ph.D. in counseling psychology. His book is called “No Sucker Left Behind: Avoiding the Great College Rip-off.”
None of them is on the Council but we’ll be talking about the role of schools and the pros and cons of this idea. That’s where you come in. Post your thoughts in the comments section below now or during the show and I’ll pull the best ones out to read on the air and ask the guests to address.
9:03 a.m. – We’re about ready to go. Jim is describing his work with the Minneapolis Public Schools. We’ve got some good comments that we can insert into the show if we get a chance. Keep them coming.
9:07 a.m. – Recommended reading: Career and college planning needs of 9th graders.
9:10 a.m. – Jim Bierma says by around 10th grade, students have more realistic plans. But if a student says he wants to be an NBA basketball player, “we go with that.” We never tell them they can’t, he says, but they emphasize that college will be necessary for that. He favors the career track, saying it helps students become more motivated.
9:12 a.m. – Randall Hansen says the #1 answer of students when asked what they want to do it “I don’t want to work behind a desk all day.” He says the governor’s proposal may be geared to “cost saving.” “It just limits people, especially so early to say ‘oh, you’re on a community college track, if your grades improve we can review that.’ It limits the students’ view of what’s possible.”
9:15 a.m. – Bierma says they’re not putting kids on a community college track. He says students can change their career plan at any time. He says surveys of parents and students shows support for career plans (tracks).
My question: What if a student doesn’t have a plan for a career at the 9th grade. Does this push them to decide something and is that good or bad?
9:18 a.m. – Matt in Luverne, a high school senior calls. Says he had tons of ideas of what to do and it was good to see options. But he didn’t like the idea of making kids write down what they might want to do. “It puts undue stress” on the kids.
9:19 a.m. – John from Bloomington says this is the German model of education. He says students are put on a trade track or an education track. He says it reduces student anxiety.
9:24 a.m. – Marc Scheer says he falls out on the side of being concerned about students’ financial futures. The current generation of students graduating are Generation Debt. They’re receiving lower salaries than they expect. He’d like to see consideration of future salaries become a bigger part of the picture.
Tangent time As you know, I’ve been talking to kids on campus for the last few weeks, asking them where their “passion” for the choice of their direction comes from. In interviews with 60+ kids so far, I haven’t met anyone who says it came from anything that happened in high school.
9:28 a.m. – A parent of a 9th grader calls and says she fears that instead of having a variety of resources available to help kids make decisions, what we’ll have is a tracking where people were told at an early age, you should do this or you should do that. She also says there aren’t enough counselors in schools, a fact also brought up by several people in the comments section below.
Jim says Minnesota is last in the nation for school counselors per student. “We’re also optimistic that we do a lot of things in classrooms. School counselors are all about getting girls in science and math and we do not tell people, ‘you cannot do this.'”
9:38 a.m. – Andrew, a high school student, wants to get into the performing arts and he says it’s hard to find good information. What’s available for him, he asks? Jim says he would show him Web sites for colleges that have strong acting programs.
Is that a decision Andrew could’ve made in 9th grade? Yes, he says.
9:40 a.m. – A caller says she would’ve “sold herself short” if she had made decisions in the 9th grade. She also wonders why Minnesota would move forward with this plan without a foundation in place to support it?
Marc says there’s a danger students could get locked into something rigid at an early age. “No one wants a 13 or 14 year old to make all their life decisions, but at the same time we need more of a career emphasis in high school.”
Jim says school counselors are promoting a program that doesn’t lock students into anything.
9:42 a.m. – I’m having a flashback to the mid-90s when there was a worker shortage in Minnesota and businesses were concerned that they wouldn’t have enough well-trained workers. It led to efforts to increase emphasis on career tracks in high schools, and caused a debate on what schools are for: to provide “enlightenment” or to make workers for businesses?
9:50 a.m. – Dr. Hansen, one of the guests earlier in the hour, has posted this follow-up in the comments section.
Hi. One thing I wanted to follow-up on from the show this morning is the importance of something Jim said… that I think it is important to tie interests to possible careers and jobs — so high school students can then do the research themselves and find out information about the type of work, the pay, the values, the job outlook, and so forth about each type of career.
Too often students — in high school or college — choose a major, say philosophy — as Jim mentioned — and proceed with no clue as to the kinds of jobs they could get with that major… or they assume they will just continue on to graduate school.
We have a section on QuintCareers.com that we call real jobs for real majors — where students can find a list of jobs for just about any type of college major.
Thanks again for having me on the show.