Governors Wrong, College-Prep Not For Everyone

The recent decision of 13 governors from Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Texas to require college-prep for all students is wrong. Data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, thoughts of our leading thinkers, and anecdotal evidence lead to the conclusion that we should not limit studentsí opportunity to just college preparation curriculums.


Fall 2000 Occupational Outlook Quarterly (pages 7 and 9) states that by 2008, only 23.8% of the jobs will require a four-year bachelor's degree or higher. Also reported is a college graduate over supply of 1,900,000 for 1988-1998 and approximately 900,000 for 1998-2008.  The two-decade surplus is almost three million graduates. These people will not have jobs requiring a college degree. This situation is going to get worse as outsourcing of college graduate jobs to countries such as India and Ireland continues to grow and baby boomers do not retire as expected because of low savings. In addition, United States start up companies, a large source of jobs requiring a college education, are hiring foreign labor from the beginning rather than American workers. Technically it is not out-sourcing because the jobs were never here to start with. Not All College Majors Are Created Equal has an analysis by major concerning the likelihood of a college graduate having a college level job. 

Peter F. Drucker, Clark Professor of Social Science at Claremont Graduate School, California is considered by some  "the founding father of the science of management (LA Times)." His book The New Realities1 provides vital insight into making all students take a college prep curriculum. "Delivering literacy--even on the high level appropriate to a knowledge society--will be an easier task than giving students the capacity and the knowledge to keep on learning, and the desire to do it."... "All it requires is to make learners achieve. All it requires is to focus on the strengths and talents of learners so that they excel in whatever it is they do well." ..." But schools do not do it. They focus instead on a learner's weaknesses."

2Kevin J. Clancy, chairman and CEO of Copernicus, a global marketing consulting research firm provides insight into the politically correct notion that more difficulty curriculums are helping students. He " . . . developed a statistical model to predict MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) scores 
. . . "  at different schools based on these socioeconomic characteristics " . . . percentage of families that receive aid to dependent children; have two parents; are below the poverty line; are white; and hold a college bachelorís degree or higher. What we learned is that how well children perform on MCAS score has almost everything to do with parental socioeconomic backgrounds and less to do with teachers, curricula, or what children learned in the classroom." 


Should a Massachusetts friend of mine been required to take a college prep-curriculum? An average 8th grade student, he expressed a desire to attend high school in a neighboring district to study carpentry.. Four years of getting up early, being dropped at his grandmotherís house by 7:15 a.m. by his father, and walking home about a mile after school was accomplished. Today, in his middle 30's, he is a successful contractor making good money and a successful husband with two healthy children. All this without a college-prep curriculum.

His younger brother, also took a different route to success. Also not much of a student, his ninth grade year ended after a few weeks as he became his family's first high school drop out. Interested in police work, he earned his GED, enter the national guard, and served in the first Gulf war. He returned and is now working as a unionized correction officer. Of above average intelligence, he scores higher on standardized exams than his competition, most of whom have a high school degree and some have a college degree.

Their cousin took a more conventional route to success. An average college student specializing in work and social life, he graduated in six years. Now he has a successful business career working in Boston. The non-academic aspect of his education and not curriculum helped him succeed.

The testing required by "no child left behind" is causing some students to concentrate on test subjects at the expense of vocational subjects. Just what we need! Now we will have a shortage of vocational specialists to go along with our surplus of college graduates. The Occupational Employment Projections to 2012 reports the 20 high-paying occupations with many openings projected for 2002-12 will add almost 1,000,000 jobs annually.  Sixty percent of these will not require a bachelor's degree or higher and 21% will be vocational oriented. If so many are going to work in non-academic areas, why not let choose their curriculum.?
For more information on these top 20 high growth and high earnings job visit
High Paying High Growth Chart.

1 The Realities, by Peter F Drucker, Boston Harper & Row, 1989, pp 236-237

2 Making more sense of MCAS scores, by Kevin J. Clancy, Boston Globe, April 24, 2000, page A19