2019 Workforce Prep Vs Academics Getty
What Americans have said

What teachers 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.

All core classes should be successfully completed each year in high school, and then, if a family so chooses, they can take skills-related classes.

Moniqua, 45, Black middle school teacher in urban Michigan

College is great, but the whole world does not attend college. We are doing our future generations such a disservice by pretending all students want to go to college and putting very little time and money on the other areas of life. Should they be allowed to drop some academic courses to take job skills? A huge yes.

Jean, 60, mixed-race high school teacher in suburban Delaware

High schools should help guide students to find their passions and strengths. Schools should have a balanced curriculum that includes vocational programming and college tracks. Students should not be given the autonomy to drop core classes unless they have some type of structured plan.

Colleen, 41, Black high school teacher in suburban Georgia

I wonder if many students consider dropping out because the classes they take won't have much to do with what they want to do in their career. If schools don't offer classes in trade or technical areas, then, of course, students wanting to go toward that will not find their courses relevant.

Anna, 27, Black early elementary teacher in urban Minnesota

There should be a fine balance between both. Let’s face it: Not much of what we learned in high school can be transferred to the real world so why not teach them things that are much more beneficial?

Jennifer, 35, Hispanic kindergarten teacher in rural New Jersey

Students should be required to take certain academic courses to make sure they have a solid educational foundation. But students who show an aptitude in a particular career or job skill, they would benefit from being allowed to drop some academic classes in favor of job skills training. I see no reason to waste their time or the teacher's if they really may not need certain academic coursework in their field.

Shawna, 43, Black kindergarten teacher in urban Maryland

Not everyone needs to be an English major, and this is coming from an English major! Some of us actually have to go out and build things for the world. To me, the question is about locking an individual into an academic tract. If we could get away from what Sir Ken Robinson defined as the "factory model" of education, to a less restrictive model that was more open, we could allow learners the opportunity to pick a path but not be locked into that path if they decide that’s not what they want to do.

Jed, 35, White middle school technology teacher in rural Washington

At a point in my life when I had a family, I had to go to food banks just to survive. You can't eat a diploma. Had I had some real-life/hands-on skills, I would have had more job opportunities and ingenuity. Sure, it's good to learn about the things you learn about in high school, but the focus should be direct job training.

Trisha, 36, White elementary teacher in rural New Mexico

A high school's purpose is to prepare students for life. Not all kids will go to college, but we should prepare them to be ready to succeed. Teachers should assist a student to find their passion, whether it's in music, electrical trades, or medicine. I expect my students to be ready for college, but I'd rather have them ready to continue learning in what they love to do.

Julio, 47, Hispanic upper elementary teacher in urban Arizona

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