A new proposal from Michigan’s governor, Republican Rick Snyder, encourages the state to change graduation requirements to encourage more students to take career and technical education courses.
Last week, Snyder called on legislators to change requirements for the state’s public schools to require high schoolers to take a “career readiness” course and middle schoolers to take an exploratory career course. Snyder also recommended that schools use career-planning programs, improve career counseling, help students in career and technical education programs earn credentials, and hire more career and tech instructors.
In a statement, Snyder says, “we call this effort the Michigan Career Pathways Alliance. We are bringing together economic developers, employers, and educators, as well as K-12 districts and higher education institutions with union leaders and businesses.”
It’s just one indication of interest in the state in creating more space for high schoolers to take career and technical education courses: Michigan’s House of Representatives has already voted to replace language and art requirements in the state with a 21st century skills requirement that could include art, computer science, coding, or career and technical education.
Such efforts have also raised concerns: Advocates for foreign languages, for instance, say they offer a way for students to learn about the world and were opposed to replacing the language requirement with career and technical education. And historically, there have also been concerns that nonwhite students and students from lower-income families are “tracked” into career and technical education programs instead of being offered academic options.
9&10 News, a northern Michigan television-news program, interviewed a local superintendent, Tim Hall, who supported the measure: “It became clear that the state and the nation still needs skill (sic) trades people; not every student is wanting to go to college,” he told the station.
Snyder isn’t the only politician looking to encourage young people to focus on their careers. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed requiring students to draft post-graduation plans before they receive diplomas. And President Donald Trump recently announced more funds for high school apprenticeship programs.
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.