Joshua was a farmer and a firm believer in preparing his fields for the best yield, so I think he would have been solidly behind common core standards and college and career readiness. What I don’t know is how he would have viewed this article in the NY Times on various New York City private and for profit school policies on college counseling, but I have an idea. http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/07/are-ninth-graders-ready-for-college-applications/.
The article focuses on when the formal process of college counseling should begin. Some schools referenced in the article are starting college counseling in the ninth and ten grades; while others prefer to wait until the eleventh grade when they believe students are more mature and capable of evaluating their options. The reality is the students in these schools have been in college counseling mode since birth. Their parents more than likely placed them in a good early childhood or pre-school education programs. They tracked their children’s academic progress from the very first report card. They provided enrichment experiences and opportunities that support a foundation for success. Good for them, I did the exact same thing with my children.
The fact is however, the lessons one gleans from the article are not really on the subject of deciding when to begin college counseling. In reality the spotlight is on divergent perspectives on positioning students for admission into specific prestigious institutions. The more subtle lessons of the article for policymakers, administrators and teachers, are about the importance of setting expectations and establishing opportunities for all students before they even begin thinking about what to do after high school.
The college and career counseling challenge facing policymakers is more complex than at what grade level it should take place. Education policymakers must focus their efforts more on what cohesive preparation for post-secondary choices is included at every grade level for every child. This is one of the purposes of common core standards. But policies need to go beyond setting and teaching to a set of standards. They need to address and provide information, opportunities and options as well. They need to promote strategies to help students navigate the slopes of the playing field, because let’s face it, articles like the one referenced here remind us that we will never fully level the playing field. For most students and their families, college counseling is at best a one shot conversation with a counselor and at worse a notice that comes too late that your child isn’t prepared to go to college. We can do better, but in doing so the message must be clear.
Getting into college isn’t the end game. Four year colleges are not the only post-secondary choice for career training. Preparation, opportunity, and guidance are necessary for students to make good choices. Planting multiple fields that produce a variety of crops makes good sense for our country.
This blog and the ensuing commentaries are dedicated to the memory of Joshua and Missouri Calhoun and their awe-inspiring descendants who motivate me every day to continue the journey.Tweet