Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ed Commissioner wants help to advise kids about college and careers

It’s a real problem. Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says that across Kentucky, the student-to-guidance-counselor ratio is less than one to 500. That isn’t nearly enough to give each student the sort of individual guidance and attention necessary to develop a solid plan for college and careers.

Especially now that we are testing all of our students with the ACT college entrance test, more students are finding out that they have the potential to go beyond high school. But, that potential still needs focus if students are to find out what they really want to do in life – and what it takes to get there.

Who would be better to help than adults who have already ‘been there, seen that, done that’ (and maybe even have the T-shirt)? So, Holliday is launching a new effort to get many groups, including PTAs, chambers of commerce, Workforce Investment Boards, higher education and business to help.

During March 12 to 16, 2010, Holliday wants an army of volunteers to help advise 8th and 10th grade students about their future career plans.

There will be training first, so the volunteers won’t go at this cold.

While there are a lot of details still to work out, the basic idea sounds like a good one to us. Our kids need the best help we can give them, and it’s clear that in-house school guidance resources are currently stretched too thin. Certainly, members of the public, especially those with degrees, and, I would think, those in technician positions and those working in the skilled trades, might make a big difference for a student.


Anonymous said...

This idea has great potential. In fact, I would think that those with real-world experience could do at least as good of a job of advising students at the counselors in the public bureaucracy could. Also, shouldn't this idea be applied to other areas of public education, as well? For example, why don't schools allow those with lots of real-life experience and success as engineers to teach math and help prepare kids for college and career? Many in the private sector are willing to share their knowledge, life experience and wisdom, yet the bureaucratic rules keep them from doing so. Is Mr. Holliday open to this idea? And shouldn't any charter school law allow charters this type of innovative approach?

Anonymous said...

Good idea. Must include criminal records check.

Richard Innes said...

RE: Anonymous August 20, 2011 10:39 AM

You asked several questions.

Teaching law/regulations in Kentucky maked it difficult to impossible to invite outside experts to teach in our K to 12 schools.

Kentucky does have an alternative certification program for people with valuable work experience to transition to full-time teaching, but I don't know of any routine programs where, for example, a currently working scientist can come in to teach one class a day in physics, etc.

I think part of the situation is driven by job protection motives.

I have not talked to the Commissioner about this idea and I have not seen anything he might have written about it, either. However, I think he is open to ideas that will improve education.

Some of the best charter school laws leave the selection of staff up to the principal, who is the on-site education expert, free from the usual restrictions of certification. While I am not aware of a specific example, that would open the door for a charter principal to bring in our scientist to teach one physics class per day, etc.