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School-to-Work Alive and Well

October 10, 2003

The National Governors Association (NGA) and the National Center of Education and the Economy (NCEE) sponsored a forum in Washington, DC this month to push state leaders and policymakers to model the U.S. School-to-Work system after Denmark's. "Mr. [Marc] Tucker of the NCEE argued that Denmark's system should be a model for U.S. high schools," according to Education Week magazine.

Marc Tucker, Executive Director of the NCEE, is credited with driving the transformation of U.S. schools into job training centers as part of a planned economy and workforce system. (See "Marc Tucker's Dream of School-to-Work")

Misleading information has circulated that STW is defunct because the national federal STW Opportunity Act was not re-authorized.STW in the U.S., however, has not missed a beat. The 1994 STW Act was a federal grant program that initiated a STW system in every state.

No Child Left Behind continues the federal push toward STW through grants to local districts to establish Small Learning Communities, most of them tied to replacing high academic achievement with job training.

The NGA was also the initial prime mover of Goals 2000 in 1989 under then-NGA Chairman Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas.

From Vancouver, Washington:
Vancouver school district has students sort garbage,br> Label practice in developing "job skills"
October 4, 2003 by Phil Jordan

The Evergreen School District in Vancouver, Washington has been having special education students sort trash and perform janitorial duties. The District calls this activity part of their "Work Experience Program" and defends the practice as appropriate...

John Finders, parent of one of the students assigned to trash duty, responded angrily to the district's defense of treating special education students in this manner. Finders was quoted in the same AP article as saying, "They define it as 'life experience.' My son's not going to be going through trash cans when he's out of there. The schools are hard up for money, so now they've got (children with disabilities) doing janitorial work. They owe my son some educational time."

Legal advocates from WPAS have been trying to gather more information about the so-called "work experience program" in the Evergreen School District.

And from Lakewood, Washington:
New high school blends the academic, vocational
David Wickert, News Tribune

A new high school opening this month ...

Though initial enrollment is uncertain, the Northwest Career and Technical High School eventually will bring up to 300 students to study at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood.

Jim Mancuso, the school's director, said students will prepare for jobs ranging from carpentry to massage therapy...

Students will take many of the same academic classes as their peers at regular high schools. They'll also have to fulfill the same graduation requirements.

But in their first quarter at Clover Park, students will also receive an orientation to various careers. And they'll choose career paths in areas like health and human services, engineering and technology, arts and communication and science and natural resources.

Students will receive basic training for jobs like certified nursing assistant, cosmetologist and aviation mechanic...

Mancuso said when students graduate they'll be ready for many entry-level jobs and apprenticeships..."It's another option for young people," he said.


Do you suppose those students are learning their history and math? Or maybe education really isn't so important after all. We used to value education as creating opportunities for young people to climb out of a lower station in life. It prepared them for a lifetime opportunities.

In school districts that have only small learning communities, there is no option. Every student in the Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts, for example, must be in a job training program. Each school has its job clusters. Students "choose" their job training by "choosing" a high school in 8th grade.

Some references for ongoing STW resources: School-to-Work Workforce Development Clearinghouse


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