Outside the box

Could there actually be creative thinking in (gasp!) education?

Don’t look now, but it appears somebody finally “gets it” where education is concerned and this is someone who actually might be able to make some waves.

Tom Pauken, chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, is proposing major changes for Texas schools.

He thinks the current system, with its heavy emphasis on standardized testing—ever heard the phrase “teaching the test?”—is having a detrimental effect on the Texas job market.

Pauken says the current system, with its push to make every student “college ready” is broken. He proposes three “pathways” high school students could follow, based upon their aptitudes and interests.

He foresees one pathway focusing on math and science, another on arts and humanities and a third on vocational and technical training.

The European-Asian public school systems, so beloved for their results by education reformers, have done something similar for years, but they don’t wait until high school.

Pauken thinks the “no child left behind” philosophy is doing exactly the opposite, leaving children behind, forcing many whose interests lie in vocational and technical pursuits out of a system which seems to be saying everyone must go to college or you don’t reach your potential.

That system fails to recognize students have different interests and talents, that not everyone has the desire, or financial resources, to attend college.

Pauken would like Texas schools to offer a skilled trade certification so students who wish could come out of high school ready to enter the work force.

He thinks the current system downgrades the value of vocational and technical education, even as more skilled workers than ever are needed.

Old joke. Young woman is reviewing her potential suitors: “Well, Billy has an M-E-D and Bobby has a P-H-D. But Johnny has a J-O-B!” Indeed—M.B.

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2012-08-30 digital edition

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