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Welcome To The Real World – John Reed

Welcome To The Real World
This week, the class of 2018 will graduate. The “commencement” ceremonies will indeed mark the beginning of the next phase of their lives. Sadly, many will make choices that will forever affect them and their children in the future. Recently, a former student accosted me in Walmart and demanded to know why we teachers didn’t tell him how hard it would be after high school.
Even if we had, would he have listened? For at least the last 20 years, schools have been concentrating on two things only: making every kid feel like they’re a success regardless of their actual performance; and also trying through paperwork, labels, data collection, standardized tests, etcetera ad nauseum to prove students are getting better every year. In fact, schools are penalized if they don’t show improvement.
There are currently as many jobs available as there are unemployed people in this country. The challenge is those jobless folks either don’t have the training or the ambition to change their situation. I’ve written before on how certain government programs make it easier to stay unemployed..old news. Let’s talk instead about actually preparing kids for jobs, especially the 80-90% who don’t [or shouldn’t] go to college.
We need useful, relevant courses to prepare these kids to be gainfully employed after high school…and I’m not talking about flipping burgers or bagging groceries. A program called the Diversified Career Technology program (DCT) gives students an opportunity to receive on-the-job training through the cooperative efforts of employers in the business/industry community.
If combined with the technical college and local industry, plenty of jobs come to mind: car dealerships need mechanics. Timber companies need welders, machinists, electricians, and more. Agribusiness concerns more than just showing hogs; tractor repair, managing chemicals, and yes, animal husbandry are all useful skills. Solar power. Cable, internet, and cell phone companies. There’s plenty more, but you get the idea.
The DCT program is actually an old program. Many schools in Florida still have it, but the “industrial arts” classes that remain here are but a small remnant. The staff that teaches them do a remarkable job with limited resources, but for every student they successfully prepare for the real world, how many just play with their cell phones and assume the world will do their bidding?
Ten years from now, some of them will be asking the same question: why didn’t we tell them how hard the real world is?

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