A Letter From Students: "Make STEM Education Count"

As juniors in high school, we are concerned about our future. Since we have started high school, we have taken on challenging classes in an effort to prepare ourselves for higher education. We all started taking high school level classes in middle school in preparation to take college classes that we are currently enrolled in as high school students.

Our high school requires more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) courses to graduate than what Idaho currently requires for graduation. We have spent hours preparing for and taking standardized tests including ISATs, civics exam, biology EOC (End of Course) assessment, and college entrance exams. In addition to all of our academic endeavors, we have all participated in community service activities and extracurriculars. Our class dreams big, and we are not afraid to put forth the extra effort to achieve those dreams.

"Confronting the CTE Stigma" Report from RCU at MSU

“Confronting the CTE Stigma” is a new report developed from statewide surveys conducted by the Research and Curriculum Unit at Mississippi State. Julie Jordan, director of the RCU, said studies indicate that Mississippi students in CTE programs graduate from high school at higher rates than their non-CTE peers. Additionally, CTE prepares students for middle skill-level jobs, “an employment niche where growth is projected to outpace both high- and low-skill occupations.”

In the first phase of the RCU’s study, slightly more than 400 Mississippi adults were interviewed about their attitudes toward CTE. Of that group:

—45 percent were unable to name a single CTE program offered by local schools;

—44 percent said students who were disadvantaged in some way—not college-bound, residing in poverty or having poor grades—would benefit most from CTE participation; and

—48 percent agreed CTE could benefit the college-bound.

Academic Test Mandates Hurt the Need to Train Future Tradesmen

Requiring that high school students spend more hours in classrooms to meet “academic standards” sacrifices, and has clearly impacted, the dire need to give students more opportunities to learn a trade. We’re talking producing more carpenters, welders, plumbers, electricians, masons, mechanics, woodworkers, and other skilled craftsmen.

And while we’re encouraged by state and federal legislation to enhance career and technical education — formerly known as vocational-technical education, or vo-tech — it’s also clear that nothing will change unless the powers-that-be at the state and U.S. Departments of Education accede to the change and stop forcing local school districts to adhere to their “academics first” policies or else.