Tracking in the Carolinas
S.C. educators hope a new career track program being implemented this year will keep more high school students in school and better prepare them for college or work.
Gov. Mark Sanford signed the Education and Economic Development Act last May, and it should be implemented by the 2007-08 school year in every high school in the state.
As part of the program, students will learn about different career options starting as early as kindergarten, and that learning will continue through eighth grade when they pick a career cluster they are interested in exploring through specialized classes in high school.
Similar programs are already in place in other states such as North Carolina, where high school students choose from four diploma pathways that include college or university preparation, technical college preparation, occupational and career diplomas, officials said.
"The idea is we're trying to get students to think about what they're doing when they get out of school ... and that's a real positive thing," said Ed Curlee, Horry County Schools executive director of secondary education. "This is just a way to get students to focus."
Educators and district officials say the program will keep students interested in school and thus lower the high school dropout rate. They also say it will make those who choose not to go to college better prepared to enter higher-paying jobs after high school.
This is a great development IMHO - any effort to bring K-12 education into alignment with the real world, particularly in ways that prepare students for life after graduation, is a good thing. While it's laudable in theory to try to prepare every kid for a college education, the reality is that not every kid wants to, or can, follow that path, and it's a disservice to force them to get ready for something you think is important but that they don't need or want. There are a multitude of interesting, well paying careers that don't require a four year college degree, and we should expose kids to that wide world of opportunity and help them prepare for the life they want after graduation.