Who will tell the children?
The office phone rang the other day, and on the other end was an eighth-grader at a Pasco County middle school. Her class had surveyed other eighth-graders at the school and learned that almost no one knew anything about the state's latest mandate that they must have major areas of study in high school. You know, the plan that outgoing Education Commissioner John Winn is so excited about that he's been traveling the state telling eighth-graders about it. He says the kids he met are informed and ready.
His message hasn't gotten here.
Spurred by her schoolmates' lack of information, this girl and her class decided to dig up some information themselves. So they called the newspaper and very nervously asked a bunch of questions. They boiled down to these: Whose idea was this, anyway? And, why is this an issue?
Given the state's perennially low graduation rates and high dropout rates (see below), the answers seem a no-brainer to many adults. But then, think back to being a 13-year-old. Were you all about career goals? Or the opposite sex? Here's hoping that parents and educators are helping the teens to focus, much as this caller's teacher was with his student-led research project.
To help, the state released its approved list of high school majors this week. You pick your county, pick your high school and review the choices. There's the academic (think science and math), the vocational (cabinet making, electricity) and more. The state also has a counseling web site to help kids plan. Will this make a difference? Who knows. What do you think?