Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 10 2011

College for all?

In my perusing of education news this weekend, I came across an article (of course now I can’t remember where!) about a new study by Harvard that questions whether we should be preparing all students for college.  Teach for America, of course, trains its corps members to invest their students in college from elementary school up.  On the other hand, many (ignorant, in my opinion) people advocate for  more vocational training in the schools that TFA corps members work in.

I think my philosophy degree has made me decidedly less opinionated, if only because I am more open-minded; but let me say where I come down on this issue…

We are never going to live in a world where “college for all” is feasible.  Not everyone has the interest, the resources, or the incentive to go to college.  There is an abundance of occupations still existing in this country that do not require a college degree.  Yes, the world is different now that it was 20 years ago; yes, life is significantly harder without a college degree; but people are still going to choose that route. 

Given that “college for all” is not feasible, more vocational training programs would be wonderful.  I have students who are 17, 18, 19 years old, and while they intend to graduate from high school, they have already decided that college is not for them.  Of course I will do my best to convince them otherwise, but in the event that I fail, they would benefit greatly from vocational training that would give them an advantage in getting a job straight out of high school.

HOWEVER, and this is a big, big HOWEVER, I’ll be damned if you or anyone else is going to tell MY KIDS that they need vocational training in place of college preparation because of the neighborhood they live in, their family situations, or the school they go to.  My biggest issue with the argument for more vocational training programs is that they are never proposed for schools in suburban, white, communinties.  It is when ignorant people pass judgment on struggling neighborhood schools that they suddenly think vocational training is the answer and college prep is a waste of resourcces.

I often want to ask these people how they would feel if their local government decided that their school’s college prep programs were a waste of resources, because their kids will probably make it to college regardless?  I highly doubt they would accept “vocational training” as an adequate substitute for their own children…

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