Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Are schools to provide an education or job training?

Earlier this week, the Grand Rapids Public School system announced the potential closure of ten schools along with other transformation plans to address college and career readiness of their students.

"I agree with Superintendent (Theresa) Neal that Grand Rapids Public Schools has a significant impact on the entire community. After all, they are training the workforce of tomorrow," (Greg) Sundstrom said. "It is important for this community to have a well-trained workforce." (emphasis added)

So, this is what K-12 education has become? Simply a workforce training program designed to support the economic goals of a community?

What ever happened to the values of preparing children for citizenship, teaching cultural literacy, or helping students become critical thinkers?

I recently read a post that summarized the purpose of education as follows:

"Contrary to what many pundits and politicians may state, neither the strength of our military nor the intelligence of our intellectuals make our nation more likely to endure.  It is also not the rise and fall of our economy, the housing market or the stock market that will be our saving grace or ultimate ruin.  Rather, our nation's future hangs in the balance of we, the people: you and I and our readiness and willingness to take on the mantle of our citizenship. It always has been this way, and it always will be this way until the day comes when the American Dream slips from our collective reach. But in order to take on this mantle and breathe renewed life, generation after generation, into the American Dream, we must first be educated and socialized to do so." ~ Scottie Seawall, What is the Purpose of Public Education

Manager Sundstrom and others who believe schools are simply job training centers may want to read the full post as well as the comments that follow to gain a greater appreciation of what education is all about. After all, if Sundstrom is correct in his vision of K-12 education, wouldn't it be cheaper to just go back to the apprenticeship system?