Wednesday, February 13, 2013

So Here's the Thing

I've been thinking about last night's State of the Union. Particularly I've been mulling over the part about high school education. The President sighted a program where along with a high school diploma students would also complete an associate's degree in a technical subject. It strikes me as a step in the correct direction, but it also has me wondering.

First I am wondering about the state of that high school diploma if on top of it people have the time to complete an associate's degree. I'd assume that associate's would have to include 2-3 classes each semester for at least two years. Aren't there already high school requirements that fill that space? I find myself thinking that this is more akin to a double major where you can count requirements against both than the double degree implied by saying its a diploma and a degree.

If it is more like the double major, then isn't this just making high school better? Why do we need for them to also get an associate's? Doesn't the existence of an associate's degree you can obtain concurrent with your normal high school education kind of inherently degrade the degree?

Why not make high school harder?

I went to a great high school. In some ways my education has sort of gone downhill since my high school graduation. I had more science in high school than since high school. I had more math in high school than since high school; more history, more language, probably even more English. I have a BFA and an MFA. In receiving both of those degrees I never needed more math, science, or language than I had mastered in high school.

I get the feeling that isn't true of the majority of high school students. Why is that?

Probably all students aren't ready for a high school program that rigorous when they are in high school. Maybe the issue there is really about social promotion. Maybe social promotion should end in high school. Maybe high school should have rigorous standards but should also take as long as it takes. Could we have a system where if you get to a point where you plateau academically due to maturity that you start to go part time and work part time, but that you are still required to continue to attend until you finish.

Not everyone is ready to go to college at 18. That would imply that many people really aren't ready to graduate high school at 18. I don't think that's a huge revelation, and yet we put tremendous pressure on people to graduate in that time frame - even at the expense of a rigorous experience.

The flip side of this is that far too many careers, not just jobs but careers, far too many careers require a college degree. That too seems like it isn't such a revelation, and yet more and more jobs seem to require college. Why is that? Why can't we provide the rigor in high school to make people able to fill more civic roles without going to college?

Why can't we let people take longer to get a much better socially mandated education and then be in a position to make a good life for themselves?

I'm not sure concurrent Associate's Degrees are the answer. We need to make high school better.

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