2019 Workforce Prep Vs Academics Getty
What Americans have said

What parents said: How much should schools focus on workforce preparation?

In addition to the traditional PDK poll of Americans, PDK convened online focus groups with public school parents and public school teachers, thanks to funding support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. These comments are drawn from those two groups.

Academic courses all the way! That’s what they really need at that point in their lives. Learning how to adult is the parents’ responsibility, and that can come later.

Autumn, 39, White mother of three elementary school students in suburban Michigan

If their choices were limited, I would say academic classes first, then arts/music, then job skills. I say this mostly because they can get access to music/arts/job skills outside of school, and I could even help my daughter with some of those, but I can't help her with something like calculus.

Robin, 49, White mother of a high school student in urban Pennsylvania

Because I know my child wants to attend college I would prefer that he completes advanced academic classes to ensure that he’s competitive or more advanced than his peers.

Leon, 52, Black father of a middle schooler in urban Iowa ​

Even if my child was certain he was going directly into college, I would want him to take job skills classes, too. Some of the skills courses I think schools should offer would include personal economics to enrich real-life analytical/quantitative skills, interpersonal communication to learn how to work with people and teach to a strong work ethic, mechanics and shop classes to learn how to work with their hands, job-search classes to learn how to write a resume and how to seek gainful employment, and, of course, technology classes to align them with today's world. I would hope and wish that we could do those without taking away any academics or arts.

Deanna, 42, Hispanic mother of two in rural Colorado

Very few students will ever care to know how to graph a parabola, but everyone will need to know how to do their taxes. Don't require trigonometry but require basic tax preparation.

Lindsey, 41, mixed-race mother of five in Oregon suburb

They need to focus on giving more life skills that they can use in school and also in life. You think about how kids really need to know basics like balancing check or just understanding finances.

Kathryn, 38, White mother of three in suburban New Jersey

Public schools should focus on teaching kids how to make and keep a budget, what it takes to rent an apartment, how to fill out job applications and make resumes, how to pay bills. Life skills are really needed for students.

Cheryl, 53, White mother of seven in urban Washington

The best thing that public schools can offer our children besides the core teachings is life skills! I would love to see home economics come back. If there were electives available to students that would help them learn how to do things like file their taxes, how to build your credit from an early age, and budgeting, students could have a better chance to succeed in the real world.

Kathryn, 36, White mother of two elementary school students in urban North Carolina

Kids need to learn basic life skills such as how to balance a checkbook, what a mortgage is, how to be sure of themselves in social and work situations. I have asked a few seniors recently and not one of them understood how a mortgage or a basic loan worked.

Deanna, 42, Hispanic mother of two in rural Colorado

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