Like you, I take my children's and everyone's education very seriously. This is the single most important investment we can make as a society. Our educational system right now is based on all students moving on to either a two year or a four year college degree. This is not only misguided but very costly. We need to look at our system and make sure we are meeting the needs of the students and making sure they are ready to compete in a world economy. This means we need look at the abilities of the student and their interests when making education decisions.
Currently we offer programs like PSEO (Post Secondary Education Option) for the elite students with ambition and transportation to get to a college of their choice. We have AP or Advance Placement classes offered at most High Schools, again for the elite student but who would rather stay with the High School format. Neither of these two options take into account the students who are planning a careers in what I will refer to as the technical fields (construction, machining, mechanic, welding, Etc.) We leave these students in traditional class rooms with traditional educational programs that do not invigorate or encourage them to move forward in the field of their choice. We have actually reduced the amount of programs for the technical fields over the years, and have instead tried to push students towards four year degrees.
I envision making changes to the current educational system not only to add more tech programs back in to the high schools and junior highs or middle schools but add a “PSEO-type” program that helps 11th and 12th grade students explore trade schools or technical colleges. It would also involve changing the high school graduation requirements for English, Math, and Social Studies so that they accommodate the different educational path.
When we look at education as an investment in our future there is no greater value than seeing all students succeed in what is best for them. If we test students for aptitude at a younger age and work with these results, we will not only increase their skills but also find jobs or careers that fit their abilities. I believe we can increase graduation rates to almost 100% as students will be more invested in their education.