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High School Students Forced To Declare A Major 670

i_like_spam writes "As reported in the NYTimes, high school freshmen at many high schools across the nation are now being forced to pick a major. Starting this Fall, 9th graders in Florida will have to choose to major from among a set of state-approved subjects, while some students in Mississippi will have to follow one of nine designated career paths. High school administrators hope that having students declare majors will lead to greater student interest in school until graduation. College administrators think otherwise: 'youngsters should instead concentrate on developing a broad range of critical thinking and communication skills,' says Debra Humphreys from the Association of American Colleges and Universities."
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High School Students Forced To Declare A Major

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  • This is stupid. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:06AM (#20247455)
    To expect a child to choose a career at that age is ridiculous
    • by SimonGhent ( 57578 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:08AM (#20247477)

      I'm 37 and haven't decided on a career yet... just waiting to see if these computer things catch on.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)


        they are just a fad, like color tvs, cars, and refrigerators

        damn refrigerators.

        On a serious note, it would have been nice to have an actual functional major in high school, (i.e. general science, foreign languages, humanities, general studies, art), but I think that students either shouldn't have to choose a major, or if they do, make one major akin to normal high school - a general range of subjects and topics.
        • Re:This is stupid. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by walt-sjc ( 145127 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:57AM (#20247967)
          High schools still do have basic career paths... You have a choice - AP and science courses that geared towards a white collar career, and shop / auto / etc. that geared you towards blue. One will get you prepared for college / business / etc. and the other won't. We need both types of people however. We need people who will physically build our homes, businesses, highways, etc. The infrastructure of our country. The bottom line is that there are many people who would rather sweat in 100 degree heat building a brick wall, pouring concrete, etc. than be a cubicle dweller.

          But back to the FA. Forcing kids to choose a major? Stupid. It should be an option that guides you into the most appropriate courses to get you where you want to go. Kids need high school to learn about careers and THEN make a decision. What does an eighth grader know about what a physician really does? Or a chemist? Or a physicist? Hell, do they have majors for "fireman?" What about the kids who just want to be a carpenter like their dad, and HIS dad, take over the company business?

          Most "educator's" are totally disconnected from reality. They surrounded themselves in school their entire lives, generally in a public servant type role. They think they know what's best for kids but really they have just overdosed on talks and reports from overpaid sociologists that pull theories out of their asses. This is why I refuse to send my kids to public school.
          • Re:This is stupid. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @09:22AM (#20248243)
            I wish that my school would have at least let others try other career paths.

            I went the AP/engineering/college bound path. My small rural highschool had a Vocational program for auto repair and an Ag path.

            I took AP Calculus my junior year. I had literally run out of classes to take, but I wasn't allowed to take any of those 'other' classes. I'm not a Mechanical Engineer that has no clue how to weld. Even my college guidance counselor told me that welding was 'a waste of time.' We have a huge disconnect between engineering and manufacturing and there's a pretty clear reason why. Force everyone to take 1 shop and 1 welding class then ask the engineer why his 1.00000000 mm tolerance is a bit strict.

            It's taken me 6+ years and lots of trial and error to learn how to fix my car. I started with oil changes and my biggest job to date was replacing the head on my car.

            It's problem enough that we pigeon hole kids in college. I'm an engineer. It's my 'only' marketable skill. C/C++, Matlab, VB, Simulink, Free body diagrams are great for bringing home money now. But they're not going to help me redo my kitchen or paint my house or fix my car. If I had to do college over again. I'd tell my counselor to shove it and take 5-6 years for a BS degree. I'd take one of those classes most engineers looked down on, like how to wire a house, how to run plumbing, etc.

            If only I went to a place where I could have learned all of this, at an early age, for free. Wait. I did.
            • Re:This is stupid. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @09:29AM (#20248327)
              Doesn't stop at high schools.

              Here, universities have decided it's a smart idea to narrow down your field of eduation. So if you choose your path crafty, you can circumvent all those math-heavy hardware related courses and go software-only.

              Which in turn produces people who wonder why there are side effects when they consider their hardware to work "immediately" and why an "undefined" state can even exist. With a doctorate degree, no less.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              I'm now a Mechanical Engineer that has no clue how to weld.
            • by BoberFett ( 127537 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @10:04AM (#20248803)
              1.00000000 mm is far too strict, I'm sure a 1.000 mm tolerance would suffice.
              • Re:This is stupid. (Score:5, Insightful)

                by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @10:18AM (#20248991)
                That's exactly my point. We take CAD courses, we take design courses but we don't have any "tolerance common sense" courses. The only thing I remember is one teacher gave us the cost breakdown, but this was in some HS course NOT in any college engineering course.

                It went something like this:
                "If you were to ask the shop up the road to make you a cube with the following dimensions, this is what it'd cost:
                1 inch = $10
                1.0 inch = $50
                1.00 inch = $200
                1.000 inch = $500
                1.0000 inch = $1000
                1.00000 inch = $5000"

                I'd say 85% of my graduating ME class from a school that's considered a 'good' engineering college wouldn't be able to tell you the difference between the $50 and the $5000 option. "Well the numbers are all zero so they don't matter".

                Then they wonder why they get yelled at by production when some print they came up with asks for 1.0000 mm between 2 holes that are .2500 mm in diameter. Because in class the teacher just had them select the X.0000 tolerance in the dimensioning block. Then you have the people on the other side of the spectrum asking for the 0.25 mm holes 1 mm apart and they wonder why stuff doesn't fit together.

                1 shop class could have easily helped this concept, even back in HS. Let people put their hands on the metal and maybe the next time they're designing something they can remember back to that HS course.

                No, instead lets make them declare a major and keep them away from those dirty shop classes with all the potential dropouts.

                My HS shop had an *expensive* dark room. Complete with rotating door to keep out light... In me and my siblings 9 years there, no one had once used it for anything more than storage. And now I'm having to back pedal trying to figure out what the heck all these settings are on my fancy new SLR.

                • Re:This is stupid. (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by rpbird ( 304450 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @04:34PM (#20253845) Homepage Journal
                  It starts even earlier than this. If you want your little kid to be a good engineer, DO NOT buy him a virtual erector set for the PC, get him a real one. Little hands working with little tools to build real things, it matters to that young brain. It may make a mess around the house, with all those erector set pieces and Lego blocks scattered everywhere, but it'll produce a kid who can think about the real world and work in the real world.
            • Re:This is stupid. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by antarctican ( 301636 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @12:40PM (#20250913) Homepage
              t's problem enough that we pigeon hole kids in college. I'm an engineer. It's my 'only' marketable skill. C/C++, Matlab, VB, Simulink, Free body diagrams are great for bringing home money now. But they're not going to help me redo my kitchen or paint my house or fix my car. If I had to do college over again. I'd tell my counselor to shove it and take 5-6 years for a BS degree. I'd take one of those classes most engineers looked down on, like how to wire a house, how to run plumbing, etc.

              You're right, from a practical point of view, having people with broader knowledge is very important. In my high school career, I took 5 years of electronics, everything from the basics of resistors and capacitors to programming microcontrollers. It was one of the most valuable set of courses I took because now in my chosen career of software engineering, I have a better understanding of what's actually happening inside this equipment I write code for.

              But school should not simply be job training centres, despite what some in business would like. We also need well rounded people. Techies needs to be familiar with art and literature. And artsies needs to know how to change the oil on their car. We need more renaissance men and women, not simple robots trained to do one job. Only then can we better understand each other and think outside the box to solve problems.

              But to paraphrase a Central American dictator, we don't need educated people, we need oxen.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by ColdWetDog ( 752185 )
                As usual, Heinlein had it right:

                A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

                Modern schools aren't helping this much. Of course, I'm not sure that organized

          • Re:This is stupid. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Caste11an ( 898046 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @09:45AM (#20248569)

            Amen, brother.

            I majored in Physics in college, only to find that I was exceptionally good at explaining things in our campus planetarium and observatory. After two years of friends, family, and planetarium patrons telling me I should become a teacher, I took the plunge and added Secondary Education to my major.

            I met with my new adviser who told me, "You have a lot of ground to cover -- you've missed two years... I just don't know how you're going to make it up in time."

            Then I attended my first class. Every test -- EVERY test -- was based on the bold letter definitions in the text book. Hell, in one of my "advanced" classes (500-level (I had to get "special permission" to take it as an undergrad)) the professor handed out the final exam on the first day of class. She said, "Have this back to me by the end of the semester. It's really hard, so I figured I'd give you the whole time. Again, bold-letter definitions and requests to copy and paste -- err, transcribe -- huge segments of text from the textbook into the space provided.

            My most memorable experience was coming from a Stat Therm in the morning. The prof in that class said to us, "I realize nobody has the book yet, but the first 10 problems are due tomorrow. There's a copy of the book in the library, so not having the book is not an excuse." I went from that to my education class, wherein the prof said, "Here's a 90-page novella that I think is nice. Please read it by the end of the semester and write a paragraph on what you thought."

            I can't tell you how shocked I was when the hands went up and the litany of childish grunts from ALL of the other students began:

            • "Do we have to read the whole thing?"
            • "Is this for a grade?!"
            • "How many sentences have to be in this paragraph?"
            • "Does our name have to be on this?!"

            These are the people to whom we trust the education of our children.


            • Re:This is stupid. (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Ubergrendle ( 531719 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @10:38AM (#20249295) Journal
              I worked for 8 years with children, ages 4-18 at a variety of camps starting as a teenager and through my university years. Lots of hands on experience, I'm a good communicator, and generally an enthusiastic person. Without being falsely modest, I think I'd make a very good teacher. I even had a mixed undergrad degree... humanities (history major, english minor) and science (computer major) since I wanted to keep my options open. 4th year of my honours degree I audited some of the education degree course and did a couple of days job shadowing on site at elementary and high schools to see if this is what I wanted to do.

              I'd rather work retail minimum wage, was my conclusion.

              Unionised fat cat 20 year service teacher who did NOTHING, they lost the will to live practically. Arrive @ 8:55am and in the parking lot by 3:05pm each day. Teachers who actively mocked their students. Self absorbed moaning about their hard hours, when most of these teachers had been in the same education system cradle to grave, no real world experience. What I found most distressing was an active contempt for people oriented towards manual trades vs academic performance. The world can't be made up 100% of lawyers and doctors damnit!

              I came to the sad realistation that my ignorant assumptions at the ages of 6 and 8 and 10 than my teacher might be a 'stupid head' or idiot were most likely accurate at the time. The few teachers that somehow survive the byzantine bureacracy and escape the repetitive formula of class curriculum are truly blessings...who have no way of being rewarded for their higher performance or value. An elaborate system that breeds mediocrity only under the best circumstances.

              10 years in IT now, I'm a director of Q/A and am very happy with my career choices. But I have no idea what I'm doing with my kids in a few years when they enter school... I hate to be an elitist snob, but private schools might be the only realistic option available to us.
          • Re:This is stupid. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by spikedvodka ( 188722 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @09:57AM (#20248729)
            I am an educator. I am not a teacher, but I work at a public school to further the education of the students. (I'm the tech geek). My wife is a teacher. I am also a parent, My son isn't old enough yet to go to school, but when he is, I agree with you, If I can afford it, he will not go to public school.

            I think there needs to be a distinction between "educator", "Teacher", "Administrator", and "F'n state department of Ed".

            The vast majority of teachers really do care about the students, and about teaching the students what they really need to know, and making them well-rounded individuals. As a whole, so do educators... however, as a general rule these days, teachers don't get to teach.

            No Child Left Behind (or NCLB as it's known) has forced massive numbers of assessments on the students. There are literally over 5 different assessments that have to be done on the students at the school here, at least twice a year. These assessments sometimes take over a week to do with each child in the class individually. During this time, the teacher is often out of the room, assessing a student, and so can't be teaching the class.

            Then there's the "Warm fuzzy shit" that has to be taken care of, because kids just aren't getting it at home.

            Then there's the attitude (often "enforced" by administration) that homework is a burden on students, and it takes them away from their social life/basketball/etc. So you can't keep kids after for academic reasons.

            Then there are the parents that threaten to sue the school any time their kid gets kept in for recess for slugging another kid (and the school has it on camera)

            Please, do me, the rest of the country's educators, and the kids a favor... Be active in education. Find out when your local school board meets. Go to the meetings, inform yourself about the issues, talk with the board members. volunteer at the school.

            Don't just worry about taxes, because that's what pays for the schools. Worry about how the school district is using the money. Work with the educators to make the schools better, Please.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by DuckDodgers ( 541817 )
            Most "educator's" are totally disconnected from reality. They surrounded themselves in school their entire lives, generally in a public servant type role. They think they know what's best for kids but really they have just overdosed on talks and reports from overpaid sociologists that pull theories out of their asses. This is why I refuse to send my kids to public school.

            3 to 1 says the plan was hatched by some school administrator or politician in the state department of education. It may even be an a
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Its seems like they are doing everything they can but fix the real underlying issues with the education system. If you don't fund it properly, it just ain't going to work.
      • Re:This is stupid. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:15AM (#20247529)
        If you don't fund it properly, it just ain't going to work.

        Throwing more money at it isn't necessarily the fix needed. Some places with relatively high spending per child have the crappiest schools.
        • Re:This is stupid. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:42AM (#20247807) Homepage Journal
          Money isn't the issue.

          Lowering the bar and worrying more about a child's "self esteem" rather than academics things things such as playing nanny to students AND wasting money on programs like sex education (sorry that is the job of the parents) AND sensitivity training are hurting academic performance. When teachers are expected to be nannies rather than teachers, do u rly expect students 2 xl @ math & science, & b able 2 sp34k in nything but aol sp35k? ZOMG LOL WTF!
          • Re:This is stupid. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Joe Random ( 777564 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @09:25AM (#20248291)

            wasting money on programs like sex education (sorry that is the job of the parents)
            I both agree and disagree with you there. It should be the parents' job, but many, many parents delay this out of embarrassment, and the results of that can be disastrous for the child. Basically, sex education is something that everyone needs to know, and that parents just can't be reliable counted on to deal wit.
        • Re:This is stupid. (Score:5, Informative)

          by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @09:25AM (#20248287) Journal
          I agree that simply throwing money at a problem is rarely a solution. But just to back up that "Some places with relatively high spending per child have the crappiest schools" idea with some data...

 rchives/education/010125.html []

          Or, a few clicks from that page is the actual report (2005 data, released April 2007):


          Page 12 ranks each state spending per pupil per year for primary and secondary education. Top 10 spenders are, in order: New York, New Jersey, DC, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island.

          From this page: level_Middle_CountyID_0.html [] (2003 data - Middle Schools only!) the overall rankings for the above top-10 spenders are, in order of spending: New York (#21), New Jersey (#16), DC (#51 - bottom of the barrel, folks!), Vermont (#5), Connecticut (#10), Massachusetts (#1), Delaware (#29), Arkansas (#43), Pennsylvania (#28), Rhode Island (#37)

          Clearly there is no strong correlation between money spent and education quality. Here is a list of the top 10 states by education rank (again, middle schools only!) with their spending rank in parenthesis: Massachusetts (#5), Minnesota (#23), New Hampshire (#15), North Dakota (#25), Vermont (#4), Montana (#28), South Dakota (#41), Iowa (#30), Colorado (#31), Connecticut (#5)

          Interesting that South Dakota is apparently 7th in the nation for education quality and 41st in the nation for education spending... And DC is #3 in spending but dead last in results... By a huge margin, too! The difference between #50 and #15 (33 points) is more than two thirds the distance between #1 and #50 (45 points)! Smells like corruption to me.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by plover ( 150551 ) *
            Be careful in leaping too quickly to that judgment, because you're looking at only a single point in time.

            The Minnesota Miracle [] began in the 1960s, at which time our state got serious about pouring money into our schools. Our tax rates soared and remained consistently among the highest in the nation; and at the same time our schools performance rocketed to the top of the nation. Education remained mostly well funded up until about 1998. But ever since then our schools have been either coasting on stead

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Bender0x7D1 ( 536254 )

              Actually, Ventura wanted to spend more on education. He refused to fund a new roof for the dome stating that he had schools that had older roofs that should be taken care of first. What really screwed him over was the fact that Republicans and Democrats united against him so they could keep their system in place until they got one of their own elected again.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Mike1024 ( 184871 )

          Throwing more money at it isn't necessarily the fix needed.

          If you read the article and the wikipedia entry [] on the school you learn the following:

          * Dwight Morrow High School, the subject of the article, shares its campus with the (separate) Academies@Englewood.
          * Academies@Englewood is a "four-year comprehensive magnet public high school program [...] to raise the standard of public education for Englewood residents, and to attract white residents of Englewood and Englewood Cliffs back to the public school system.
          * Academies@Englewood already has 'major'-like academ

        • Throwing more money at it isn't necessarily the fix needed. Some places with relatively high spending per child have the crappiest schools.

          Don't rate this insightful. It's a logical fallacy.

          "Some schools with lots of resources are badly managed. Therefore, spending money to create better schools a bad idea."

          The truth is that most schools with lots of funding produce students with higher GPA's. In general, more funding is a good thing.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 )
            "Some schools with lots of resources are badly managed. Therefore, spending money to create better schools a bad idea."

            That's not what I said. "Throwing more money at it isn't necessarily the fix needed." Your 'therefore...' is a false extension of the quote.
            More money probably won't hurt, but is not the be all and end all of problems with the school system.

            We need to grow better parents. And actually teach, instead of teaching to a test.
      • Re:This is stupid. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Undertaker43017 ( 586306 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @09:01AM (#20248005)
        Throwing more money at the problem isn't going to fix it.

        The real problem with public education is that it has become the dumping ground for kids whose parents don't care and can't take the time to be engaged in their children's lives. Parents that care, do whatever they can to send their children to a private school or home school them. The public school system is full of kids who have no positive educational influence at home and are just a negative influence on kids that are trying to learn. Until you can get the majority of public school parents to care about their children's education and become a "champion" in their lives for an education, the system won't change and will continue to go down hill.
      • Re:This is stupid. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @10:36AM (#20249259) Journal
        "If you don't fund it properly, it just ain't going to work." ...and that's the sort of nonsense comment that leaves it broken. I'm sure the Teacher's Unions love it, however.

        Simply throwing money at problems rarely solves them.

        In 2004, the City of Minneapolis was spending more than $11500 per student, for a math proficiency below the 40th %ile, and reading around 55th %ile. And don't tell me it's the crowded classrooms...15.2 students/teacher. That would be a joke, if it wasn't so serious. 4/llid=116/stllid=148/locid=956260/stype=/catid=-1 /secid=-1/compid=-1/site=pes []

        So tell me again, it's the MONEY?

        Let's take a good sized class, perhaps 25 students.
        That's $287,500 per year to educate them.
        Let's give the teacher a really nice salary - we want someone GOOD, who enjoys their work! - of $87500, leaving us $200,000.
        Good suburban office space is leasing at just under $2/sqft...let's give these kids LOTS of space, and assume a goodly portion of shared spaces (a gym, a cafeteria, auditorium, etc.) 2500 sqft = 60,000 per year leaves us with $140,000. (Ignoring for the moment that School Districts and cities can/should obviously do MUCH better than 'market'.)
        Let's even hire a nicely-paid assistant for the class, always better to have smaller groups learning when you can, and there's a lot of paperwork to teaching: $40,000/yr.

        You're telling me that a class of 25, with a budget of $100,000/yr for materials, can't manage better than 40th percentile in Math?

        If that's true, is another $200/student really going to make any difference? $2000?

        You could buy them each an adequate laptop and STILL have $60,000/year for other supplies.

        I call complete BS on your "underfunded" assertion - that's the lazy answer. US Public education is a perfect example of waste, bureaucracy, sinecure, and mismanagement from top to bottom.

        Teaching is one of the hardest jobs there is. I believe that more of the $$ should be going to the teachers and students, than whatever rathole it's disappearing down now. Many schools in the Western world are doing much, much better on much, much less than the US spends per pupil. We need to examine why, and see if we can emulate it.

        Nota bene: it's easy to be a critic, but harder to provide suggestions, so I'll make a few
        - schools have suffered from 100 years of 'mission creep' (ok, really only the last 40). School != Parents, and we need to stop expecting that teachers will parent our children for us.
        - less funding for special-needs students. Yes, we all feel sorry for them, but schools are now doing the work that mental hospitals used to do. Why? I can understand that if Timmy is slightly disabled, having an aide work with him to get him up to speed is fine; but when you have 2 full time special-ed teachers in 1 elementary school to deal with a roomful of children who (AT BEST) *might* be able to feed themselves? That is educational dollars being wasted in medical care. That should NOT be a school's responsibility.
        - English...the Mpls Schools crow about their 'diversity' of having courses in some 60+ languages. That's idiotic and wasteful. Elementary and High School ESL classes, otherwise all English.
        - End social promotion. Teachers found passing children who do not meet grade benchmarks are fired. Stop the focus on 'self-esteem'. If a kid has trouble, hold him back. If this makes him sad, perhaps he'll work a little harder.
        - 8-5 school day, 48 weeks a year.

        Yes, this is harsh. But I'm 39, and my opinion of high school is informed by my experience. As a junior, I stopwatched my school days for a week. Out of a 7.5 hour day, I would start the timer whenever we were going over new material, or reviewing it the 1st time, or testing. I
    • Even asking a child what they want to be is stupid. Hell, most of the adults I know are only just deciding what they really would like to do for the rest of their lives.

      Really people generally decide what they don't want to do and that takes time, experience and trial and error... So young people should be encouraged to move between jobs and educational opportunities.

      In reality this is a cost cutting measure.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by djones101 ( 1021277 )
      Ah, but to corporate America, this is the ideal thing. Force someone to declare a major at a young age, get them so tied to that major that switching is nigh to impossible, and then you know exactly how large your potential workforce pool is. It streamlines the hiring procedures of the big corporations.
      • Re:This is stupid. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:36AM (#20247761) Journal

        Ah, but to corporate America, this is the ideal thing.
        The irony of your statement is that the place where this type of thing was most commonly practiced during the 20th century was in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries. It rings of central planning, perhaps next we'll be seeing some 5 year plans and "Great Leaps Forward"? It really isn't a surprise to see this type of thing in government run schools.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mwvdlee ( 775178 )
      Just for us non-americans; what age is a typical 9th grade student?
    • Re:This is stupid. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:26AM (#20247645) Homepage Journal
      When I was 15 in the early 80s, a school guidance counselor was told to talk to me. Having been abandoned by my family, abused, molested, malnourished, etc... school was the least of my worries as I tried to survive and find food. Obviously my attendance suffered.

      The counselor (a woman) proceeded to tell me I had better decide right away what I was going to do with my life, what my career would be. "How do you expect to support a wife and family?" she asked pointedly.

      That just further reinforced my impression at the time that at best adults were clueless idiots, and at worst dangerous.

    • Why not?

      I mean why stop at grade nine. Heck let's make them decide a major in Grade 6. Wait, that might be to late, how about Grade 1? No, wait the competition might catch on and decide earlier.

      Heck why wait until you have kids. Why not decide now for my great great great grand kids. We could buy them books, and computers and get the great great great grand kids ready to meet the competition!!!!

      On serious note, while I can see why you want to do this, it is not really the appropriate answer. I think if some
    • by mulvane ( 692631 )
      Highschool I always thought was about critical thinking, developing ideas, and learning about ones self. This is forcing someone to pick a path that may not be them at an early age and possibly what they may not truly want because it will keep them away from things they would otherwise experience. This is a bad idea and I am someone who graduated from Florida. This is a way to make a child pick something, get burnt out on it and burnt out the rest of the time they are institutionalized there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
      In Ontario we recently started making our high school students choose work force, college, or university upon entrance to high school. That's community college or univerity/college for the people in the US. I thought that was a little extreme. From what I understand, it's pretty hard to switch once you've chosen your path. So if you choose college, and then all of a sudden in grade 10 you find something in University that you're really interested in, it's almost impossible to actually switch over to tha
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:07AM (#20247461)
    You can make everyone go in the wrong direction all at once. For decades.

    • by TheSciBoy ( 1050166 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:23AM (#20247609)

      As I understand it, High School is part of what we in Sweden call "grundskolan", which is required here. It is illegal not to attend school up to this point. After that, everything is elective. To specialize so early reeks of desperation. Up until this point, kids are kids. They need to be told what to do and when to do it. Of course they need free time, but at this age school is for two things: learning basic "booksmart" skills to make it in life (math, reading, writing, how the government works) and human interaction. The human interaction part is recess and after school, during class they need to be told what to do and everyone needs the same stuff.

      After you've attained the minimum level (lvl 1, 10,000xp) where you're able to function in society, you can choose where you want to go in life: directly to work (McDonalds, cleaning, aso) or you can get a higher education in some area of your interest.

      Specializing earlier and earlier has become common these days. This appears when schools start competing for students. Generally I think this is a bad thing. Mostly because this means that you have to decide what you want to be/do when you really have no idea and really shouldn't be making life-altering decisions like this.

      Anyone who has chosen College (or University) programs based on "what will be in demand" when you're finished will have chosen wrong. The world changes so fast that choosing what you are going to work with in 5-10 years based on what is in demand now will almost invariably mean that things have changed and you will find yourself in tough competition. It is generally better just to choose what to do based on what you want to do and hope for the best. At least then you'll be competing with others in a field you love.

      • by mikael_j ( 106439 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @10:01AM (#20248775)

        Actually, High school would be closer to what's called "Gymnasiet" in Sweden.

        • Grundskolan
          • Lågstadiet - grades 1 to 3, ages 7 to 9
          • Mellanstadiet - grades 4 to 6, ages 10 to 12
          • Högstadiet - grades 7 to 9, ages 13 to 15
        • Gymnasiet - grades 1 to 3, ages 16 to 18

        Grundskolan is all compulsory and almost all students go on to gymnasiet. After gymnasiet you go to college (högskola)/university or join the workforce. In gymnasiet you get to choose between a large number of college-preparatory or vocational paths, none of which completely disqualify you from going to college although to be able to take certain college classes/majors you need to have taken certain classes in gymnasiet. Most engineering majors require that you've taken Math A through D (sometimes E), Chemical engineering requires Chemistry B and so on..


  • Mixed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:09AM (#20247481) Journal
    On one hand, I hate the idea of anything that "pigeon holes" students.

    On the other hand, I hate the concept that all students must be prepared for college. A lot of people just aren't cut out for it. Some are looking for blue collar careers, and would be better served by programs that prepare them for this vocation.

    Combine this with kids who are at risk of dropping out of school. I see a lot of this. Some areas have a higher than 50% drop out rates. If you can take these kids and show them that when they are done with high school, they will be ready for a job as an electrician, a plumber or a mechanic, they'd be more likely to stay in. Tell them that they need to have 4 semesters of English, two of history, and they will be required to take some arts classes, and their reward will be two years of post-secondary trade school, and then they might get a job... well, some back grounds just don't value the education enough.

    I see downsides to the "track" approach, but I see upsides as well.
    • But, this is already taken care of.

      We actually 'declared' majors in high school in the 80's. You were either 'academic' or 'vo-tech'. The 'techers went to their respective trade schools for certain days of the week. Academics could, to an extent, choose which classes they would take and how far they would go (not everyone got to calculus, for example).

      So what is wrong with that model?
    • Re:Mixed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eggoeater ( 704775 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:26AM (#20247643) Journal
      No I haven't read TFA but I'm willing to bet some of the majors are the equivalent of metal shop.

      Actually I see many downsides....
      I was interested in CS all through high school and took every programming course (all was the mid-80s) that my school had to offer. But I also marched in the band.
      What if this new major program prevented (via scheduling, resource, and location conflicts) the students ability to be engaged in multiple interests?
      If I were back in high school and confronted with this, I probably would have chosen band over CS courses simply because that was where all my friends were.

  • Maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jaqenn ( 996058 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:10AM (#20247493)
    When I was in college, I had no difficulties picking a major: Computer Science. I wanted Computer Science since I played video games at the age of 3.

    I had a roommate who couldn't decide on a major, and in fact didn't have one until around his Junior Year

    Some people know what they want to do when they turn 14, some people don't. I do not see the value of making the people who don't pick one anyway.
    • This is a lot different that college majors. This is a general career path despite the terminology of the article. I don't see anything that indicates you cannot change your mind, though I imagine there would be some catching up to do.

      I think this is more like "mechanic" versus "engineer" versus "artist". There would be a different emphasis on the types of classes being taken. The engineer would have heavier math than the mechanic than the artist.
  • Umm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mercurium ( 1051806 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:11AM (#20247495)
    College students changes majors like they change their socks, what makes them think high school students can stick their guns?
  • by znode ( 647753 ) * <(znode) (at) (> on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:12AM (#20247503) Homepage
    This is not only useless, but potentially damaging to the children's careers.

    As Paul Graham says,

    [blockquote]If I were back in high school and someone asked about my plans, I'd say that my first priority was to learn what the options were... there are other jobs you can't learn about, because no one is doing them yet. Most of the work I've done in the last ten years didn't exist when I was in high school... In such a world it's not a good idea to have fixed plans.[/blockquote]
  • Now Bobby! (Score:2, Funny)

    by lottameez ( 816335 )
    You said you wanted to be a marine biologist! Now go up to your room and dissect that shark! What else are you going to do with your life? Sales?
  • I highly agree with the college administrators on this one. Grade 9 is way to early to decide a career. High school is what exposes students wide range of subjects so that they can go from there. Honestly, how much does one learn about physics, chemistry, computer science, law, etc. in middle school? Certainly not enough to make a decision that will bind them to a particular field of study for the rest of their lives.
  • by dwm ( 151474 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:13AM (#20247517)
    First of all, I believe you really don't know what you want to do until you get (at least) a couple of years of college under your belt. Sometimes you get lucky and guess correctly before then, but most folks just aren't mature enough or have enough life experience to be able to tell what you will enjoy doing. Yes, I understand there are exceptions to this on both ends of the spectrum; I'm talking averages here.

    Second, the college folks are right on about needing a broader focus. As it is, students are too quick to dismiss fields of learning that they don't see as relevant to their interests. Sadly, most folks realize only after they leave school that the purpose of school at nearly all levels is not so much to teach you certain subjects, but to teach you how to learn.
    • First of all, I believe you really don't know what you want to do until you get (at least) a couple of years of college under your belt. Sometimes you get lucky and guess correctly before then, but most folks just aren't mature enough or have enough life experience to be able to tell what you will enjoy doing.

      I've known I was going to be spending my life working in the field of computers longer than I've known how to walk. Clearly you don't know what you're--

      Yes, I understand there are exceptions to this

  • Nice, give them 9 choices you pre-define on what you want them to be and hope they don't become miserable drones. That's a nice method of control wouldn't you say? Your choices are Doctor, Policeman, Teacher, Politician, Lawyer, Fireman, Veterinarian, Astronaut, Homemaker... Pick now or you'll fall behind Timmy. What happened to freedom of choice. What happens when a student - typical 14 years old at the time is being handed some career and having those studies shoved down his throat only to find out later.
  • Bad Thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <> on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:19AM (#20247569) Homepage
    My (Finnish equivalent to) high school focused all-round education. It was the best decision I ever made to study there. I've studied languages (Swedish, Finnish, English, French, German), the arts, philosophy, history, psychology, biology, math, physics, chemistry... The works.

    And guess what? After learning the basics of pretty much everything (much at least) I'm damn sure I have a good base of general knowledge for the rest of my career, and life for that matter. When I need to pick something up I always have a place to start.

    Had I been forced to focus on just a few subjects I would probably be a lot worse of in today's ever-evolving business world.
  • by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:20AM (#20247575) Homepage Journal
    I have 4 nieces in schools in Florida. They have the FCATs here, and everything is based around schools ratings with those tests. It's been ridiculous, the kids' educations in broad areas being sacrificed to "teaching to the test."
    The obsession with the FCATs is insane. Everything in the schools revolves around them. Some administrators in one school even "anointed" kids' desks before the test with holy oil, hoping for higher scores.

    I see this as just another attempt to do that - all of the "majors" will certainly be things the FCATs focus on. This is just another way to raise artificial indicators of the success of the schools at the expense of a real education.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:21AM (#20247593)
    Isn't it the case that other countries force their students to pick a career path beginning in high school? I thought this was how other countries, especially the Indian and Chinese government, were able to turn out so many engineers/ narrowing the focus of education early on.

    I agree with the idea that students shouldn't be all lumped into the same category. If you're destined to be a scientist, why spend half your high school career studying unrelated subjects? Cram all the knowledge in now, while your brain still has a huge memory capacity. That way, college is reserved for deeper study of a subject, not review of stuff you should have learned in high school.

    Also, high school curricula are pretty much aimed at the lowest common denominator. It makes sense to separate those who are interested in learning from those who are interested in using up oxygen. Ever wonder why college degrees are almost required for any corporate job? Because high school doesn't give you enough preparation to do a "real world" job. This would also prevent people from being forced through college who otherwise don't need it. There are very few non-menial jobs you can get anymore without a degree, and some people, while qualified for a job, are not suited for advanced study.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Zelos ( 1050172 )
      Yes, that's pretty much how it works in the UK: you do ~10 subjects to GCSE level (age 16), then narrow down to 3-4 at A-level (16-18). I believe that is broadening out a little now, though.

      I always wanted to be a scientist/engineer, so I only did Maths, Physics and Chemistry at A-level. I'm still interested in English, History, foreign languages etc., but I would have hated being forced to study them 16-18.
  • "Congratulations Mr and Mrs Jones, your 6-month foetal scans have been analysed. Your daughter is doing just fine, good health, no abnormalities. Her brain scans indicate she would be well suited for a career in law, so you might want to get your application in to the Legal Eagles Day Care Center. They have good play programs there, and their reference will help your daughter get the best chance for acceptance at Juris Elementary School. Don't delay, competition is fierce!"

  • Limited choices... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by realsilly ( 186931 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:25AM (#20247635)
    You've got to be kidding me! Is this an ad for the Sally Struther's college degree commercials? If a ninth grader is considered too young for sexual activity, which affects them for the rest of their lives, how in gods name can they be expected to know what major is right for them. Most students don't really find their way until they've gone through high school and teachers help inspire them to look towards a higer education.

    Isn't this similar to a communist attitude? Note I said similar, not actual communism.

    In the country where Freedom is our motto, we are starting to see less and less freedoms. /sigh GG Florida, and I went to school there, I can say this.
  • Michael A. Polizzi, an assistant superintendent, said the district carefully researched future demand for jobs, examined college programs and surveyed students about their interests before settling on its first six majors: sports management, fine and performing arts, health sciences, international studies and global commerce, communications and new media and or liberal arts.

    I think I would have difficulty choosing a subject to specialise in at age 14, not just because I would be 14, but also because those options frankly sound like bullshit.

    On the other hand, the school, Dwight Morrow High School [], shares its campus with "Academies@Englewood":

    "With more than 400 high-achieving students enrolled, the program --housed in its own building on the Dwight Morrow campus -- offers concentrations in engineering, law and public safety, biomedicine, finance, and information systems."

    I have to say, I would rather be in the high-achievers school with the decent subjects than the low-achievers school on the same campus which has such a poor selection of subjects.

    Just my $0.02.

  • I guess Walmart, McDonalds, and the like are adding classes that teach proper greeting methods, technical aspects of french fries, and different layouts of cash registers.
  • Look around you and count the percentage of people who are actually working in the same field as their college degree. I honestly doubt that this percentage will be affected much by requiring the students to make a decision when they are 17 instead of when they are 19. I mean, seriously -- how many people in their 30s would trust their own judgment made in late teens?

    In fact, in many other countries you have to make a choice by the time you're applying to the university. Shifting it by 2 years doesn't make
  • by spiney ( 28277 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:34AM (#20247733) Homepage
    As a transplant from the UK to the US, with high school/college age kids, I think it's about time that we stopped mollycoddling and pandering to the kids here, and started getting them thinking that they cannot just drift through high school and college, they need a direction, which making a choice starts to prepare them for.

    When I was at school in the UK in the early 1980's, at age 14 we had to narrow our courses to about eight subjects in total (English, Maths and a couple of others mandatory, leaving quite a bit of choice) and we studied for national exams ("O" levels) at age 16. We then chose three or four subjects usually from the eight, to take to an advanced level ("A" level), leading to national exams at the age of 18. When it cam to university time, there was no such thing as this "undeclared major" rubbish that my son is doing at an American university starting this fall. Our university admission was into a particular course, based on prerequisite courses at "A" level at required grades. This allowed the universities to know the minimum level and rely on the expected knowledge of all the students in a given course, and there was no need for foundation years, or spending the first term or two catching everyone up. This is why we could have three year Bachelor's courses instead of the four year ones here in the US.

    Today's kids are not being properly prepared for the work environment. I've lost count of the number of confident, self assured, broadly educated US Bachelors or Masters graduates I have interviewed for jobs in electronics who don't understand Ohm's Law or basic op-amp theory after graduating from between four and six years of study. It's time to stop the madness, and start preparing the kids for the new world, where they are competing against low wage earning graduates based in India or China, and if you think the UK system was harsh in making people choose, you should see the focus and emphasis on academics and career preparation in Asia...
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @09:28AM (#20248321)
      Because in my experience, China's educational system sucks.

      Having talked to people who've gone and taught there (actual teachers, not regular Joes called in to play teacher) they say it is all route memorization. To be smart is to have a lot of facts and formulas in your head. Well as it turns out memorization and analyzation are really only useful to a point. That makes you good at taking tests, but you need to be able to synthesize that knowledge in to what else you know, and apply it to novel problems to really be useful. What more for some subjects it just totally and utterly fails. Language would be a good example. They teach foreign language the same way: memorize hundreds of phrases a week. However one needs only to examine the way you use your native language to realise that's not how we process it.

      I then get to see the results of this education where I work, which is an engineering department at a university. What I see, fails to impress. The language skills of a large number of our Chinese students are ATROCIOUS. I've no idea how they passed the entrance exam (actually I do know, it is because memorization will do good for that, just not for the real world). They have extreme difficulty expressing themselves and almost as much difficulty understanding native speakers, even for quite simple things. They get along primarily by joining labs of professors that speak their native language, and simply isolating themselves. We have students who've been here for 4 years, yet still struggle, when a year of immersion is usually enough for extreme proficiency if you apply yourself.

      Likewise I find in general they are extremely poor problem solvers. They've little trouble with book work or tests, however they are sunk when it comes to a practical problem. A lab full of people allegedly getting degrees in networking will be befuddled by a simple subnetting problem (they had their default gateway set outside of the subnet and didn't see the problem). They have knowledge, but it seems not understanding. If a problem isn't phrased in the theoretical terms and abstract equations they learned, they can't solve it.

      Based on my experiences with these students, who are supposed to be very good since they can come to a foreign university, and with students from the US and other countries, along with what I've learned of China's educational system, I don't think I'd hold it up as the model to follow. It does seem to do well at preparing people for taking standardised tests, but alas the world isn't composed of those. It's the ability to use all that information on problems in the real world that is truly useful.

      So I disagree that a better educational system is one that's more hardcore, one that forces kids to concentrate on only one thing at a very early age. I think a better educational system is one that tries to generally educate the mind, one that teaches people how to think, how to solve problems, and gives them a set of tools to do that for many different ones. Then, later, if they are interested in a field that requires more specialized knowledge, they can get that specialized training.

      One of our professors has a quote I like very much:

      BS: To learn how to think.
      MS: To think about what others have thought.
      PhD: To boldly think where none have thought before.

      I think there's some truth to that. An undergraduate degree (and ESPICALLY a high school education) shouldn't be to try an hyper focus. It should be to teach you how to be a better thinker, to give you more skills and tools to that end. Yes there should be some focus since the skills for engineering are not the same skills for linguistics, but not a hyper focused program. That comes at a masters level, should you want it, where you really focus on one area of research.

      For more on this, you might want to read Richard Feynman's biography (Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman). In it he talks about his experience in Brazil. He found that they really emphasised science in schools, teaching elementary kids
  • Decissions like these are made by people who have not pride in their work or care at all about the work itself but only the status and wealth that it brings. To them, the exact nature of the work is irrelevant. If they can become famous and rich hauling garbage, they will. They do not understand that the majority of people DO want a profession where the tasks meets their personal interrests, and since watching porn all day isn't a job, they'll usually need some time to figure out what they like doing and wh
  • This is ridiculous. To ask a child at that age to make an educational decision that could affect his career track is just downright asinine. Hell, I didn't know what subject I wanted to major in four years later when I went to college -- after experiencing a full four years of high school and taking a wide variety of subjects while there. Frankly, I think that even asking high school seniors to try to decide what they want to do for a living is a little foolish. I know many people my age (26) who still
  • > high school freshmen at many high schools across the nation are now being forced to pick a major

    It makes a lot of sense. Only rich kids can afford to go to college and spend several years screwing around while they figure what they want to do. Much better if we get clear in these kids minds what their options are. It saves everyone time: Subjects on offer are infantry, artillery, bomb disposal or Mitt Romney internships. Any a great way for young people to serve!
  • Doctor: Here's your scientifically selected career.
    Kid1: Architect!
    Kid2: Insurance Salesman.
    Ralph: Salmon gutter?
    Milhouse: Military strongman!
    Martin: Systems analyst....Systems analyst....Systems analyst...
    Doctor: Systems analyst!
    Martin: All right!

    Is it exciting or disturbing that real life seems to become more like The Simpsons every day?
  • I attended a Vo-Tech HS in the early-mid '80s, and students were required to choose a major at the end of their freshman year, after a series of 6-week "exploratory" classes to give exposure to various career areas. I already knew what area I wanted to pursue (electronics), but also got exposure to areas from auto repair to graphic arts, in addition to all the standard HS curriculum.

    Upon leaving HS, you received a standard HS diploma, along with the equivalent of an associate's degree in your chosen technic
  • by chinard ( 555270 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:42AM (#20247805)
    Many accidently selected Pat Buchanan as their major.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @09:09AM (#20248101)
    What business wants is trained workers. Not educated people. They want people whose education is narrowed down to the point where they are useful for the company, while at the same time limiting them to whatever is useful for the company. This has many advantages for them. First of all, a focused education can be much deeper than a broad education. Meaning, the person will have a better understanding of his focus. And second, the person can hardly switch jobs. If you are an expert mechanic for Toyota but know little if anything about anything else, you cannot simply quit and move to a different job. You are pressed into your job with no room to move.

    Worse yet, you have to swallow whatever is said about anything that's not in your field of expertise. You have to believe what you don't know. Sure, you will get irate and call bullshit on everything spewed on the media about the things you do understand, but you will readily believe everything else.

    And that's what is wanted. It's also a very convenient way for Government out of its dilemma: You need dumb people to govern them easily, but smart people to have a strong economy.
  • by TomTraynor ( 82129 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @09:36AM (#20248427) Homepage
    Keep the education as general as possible so that when the student know what they want to do after high school that they have the basic skills.

    Some of us were blessed in that we knew what we wanted to do early in high school. I was one of those, I loved computers and took business courses until grade 13. I also took welding, machine shop, shop for small engines (marine, snowmobile etc), physics, biology and chemistry, typing along with the all of the math, geography, history and english courses. I had a very well rounded education so that if I did change my mind I had the education to change careers totally. Those skills are still used today as I can weld/braze things, I can use machinery to make metal items and tools and I can strip and rebuild small engines with my eyes shut. When people ask me what I do for a living it sometimes freaks them out that a 'computer geek' can hold a welding torch without burning down the building.

    When our children leave high school they should know
    • The basics about our history.
    • The basics about our government and the role society is expected to play.
    • Be able to write an essay that is gramatically correct with little or no spelling errors.
    • Be able to handle basic math problems.
    • Know the basics about geography and the countries that are around us.
    • Know the basics about science.
  • Canada (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dancindan84 ( 1056246 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @09:41AM (#20248521)
    We have/had something similar here, except more broad. There were 3 tracks:

    1) Advanced - Going to University
    2) General - Going to community college
    3) Basic - I like soup

    That was in the mid/late 90s and they've since made the names a little more "PC". Each was geared to get the student what they needed for after highschool, without pigeonholing them into a specific field. Also, it was on a course by course basis so that people weak in certain areas but strong in others could tailor their classes along those lines.

    It's a good system, except that because students who should have been in basic math wanted to be in general and general in advanced they would dumb down classes. All because teachers/councilors didn't have the balls to tell students, "You really should be in general/basic." So the students who should be there suffer from the progress being held back. This has rolled over into the community colleges where we have students entering Journalism who don't have a basic grasp of the English language and students entering Computer Programming who've never turned on a computer. Again they lower the bar so that people's feelings don't get hurt, and the people who really should be there suffer for it.

    Sorry for the slight tangent. It's a bit of a pet peeve of mine.
  • by tenaciousdRules ( 518041 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @09:43AM (#20248545)
    NCLB is designed obscure the truth about education in America with gimmicks. I was a statistical analyst in charge of producing NCLB reports for the state of CT. The NCLB regulations and reporting were the reason I left the education field altogether. The statistics are both unsound and completely incorrect given the sample base and intent.

    Here are the major issues with education right now in Florida (and most states):

    1. There is a significant achievement gap between high/low poverty schools and white/minority schools. That gap has increased due to NCLB.

    2. Highly Qalified Teachers: There aren't enough. Another component of NCLB requires schools to move toward 100% highly qualified staff. The gap here is the same as the achievement gap. The rich/white schools get better teachers.

    To quote a report by the Florida Department of Education to the feds regarding their progress toward "HQT = 100%":

            "The percentage of classes taught by HQTs is above 90 percent in all categories except high-poverty secondary schools. At the secondary level, there is a six percentage point gap between high- and low-poverty schools." ew/fl.doc [] Link to the doc quoted above, from the US Department of Education. Every state has to submit hundreds of narrative documents like this every year in order to qualify for funding.

    Teach teachers how to teach. Make parents responsible for their children.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by great om ( 18682 )
      My wife was a teacher in a poverty stricken school in inner city pittsburgh (where she chose to teach after being accepted to teach in pittsburgh's magnet elementary school {for high achievers]. After 2-3 years of awful administration and lack of support from parents, she decided to quit teaching. Now she writes textbooks. It's a shame on a certain level -- she was a truly excellent teacher. The number one problem in teaching is, I feel, administration -- find a school with good, supportive, fair admin
  • Career Test (Score:4, Funny)

    by Plocmstart ( 718110 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @10:26AM (#20249125)
    Remember those tests you would fill out with a bunch of random questions and then you would end up with a bunch of potential "best fit" jobs? If I remember right, my two top jobs were something like rocket scientist and garbage man. I'm glad I wasn't made to decide that day what my future was... I managed to take the middle road and become a EE.
  • The majors suck (Score:4, Insightful)

    by russotto ( 537200 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @10:43AM (#20249365) Journal
    Anyone take a look at the suggested majors?

    Michael A. Polizzi, an assistant superintendent, said the district carefully researched future demand for jobs, examined college programs and surveyed students about their interests before settling on its first six majors: sports management, fine and performing arts, health sciences, international studies and global commerce, communications and new media and or liberal arts.

    Um, where's the hard sciences? Where's the math-heavy subjects (including CS)? What is something as narrow as sports management doing in that list? WTF is "international studies" anyway?

    When I was in school I took shop one year (it was actually required for all students) What I learned was that I could solder OK with a torch (I already could solder with an iron), could do a halfway-decent welding job with acetylene, but don't let me near an arc welder unless you want metal with ragged holes in it. Certainly it was more relevant to my future than Freshman English (a class taught by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing -- and I did not learn that line in that class), and more interesting as well. If these majors are so all-inclusive as to lock students into a single track with no opportunity to try other things, it'll make high school an even worse grind than it already is.

    Anyway, I know people about my own age (mid-thirties) who had a major in high school. It seems to be a fad some schools go through from time to time. Actual practical effect is likely negligible, at least for college-bound students.
  • Good idea (Score:3, Funny)

    by Floritard ( 1058660 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @10:53AM (#20249477)
    The earlier students choose a major the better. Get them used to the whole cycle of repeatedly switching majors like proper college students.
  • Good and Bad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Warshadow ( 132109 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @11:18AM (#20249791)
    This can be great for some students. If they're like myself and found the general material offered in high school so incredibly boring that they couldn't be bothered to put forth any effort. I know if there had been some sort of program gearing me towards something I was interested in, say Electrical Engineering, I would have actually put some effort into high school.

    That being said as people have pointed out this can be a burden on kids who just don't know or don't have any interests compelling enough to work towards.

    I know right after I finished school, New York State started offering a program where you chose a field you were interested in and the program would prepare you better for majoring in that subject when you went to university.

    It's definitely a double edged sword. It can be great for kids who are bored and would like something interesting to work on, but terrible for those who are already struggling just to pass the general courses.
  • by moxley ( 895517 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @11:24AM (#20249859)
    This is ridiculous; almost to the point of being criminally negligent.

    I agree and am always saying that one of the many, many major problems with education in America is that kids are not taught to think critically, to think for themselves.

    They are taught to learn by rote and not to question authority.

    With how the publication of science and textbooks has been politicized and corrupted; and then this crap and everything else that is going on with education here, it is clear that the goal is to create more cogs.

    More cogs for the the machine that will be good little citizens. More bricks in the wall; like the Pink Floyd song "Another Brick in the Wall, pt.2"

    More and more I am so sad for this country because I just don't see a way for America to survive as a free, progressive society. We were once the light of democracy for the world supposedly - and now , if we can avoid becoming a complete fascist dictatorship - we'll still have to deal with a country full of mindless cogs.
  • by objekt ( 232270 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @03:02PM (#20252817) Homepage
    I went to a technical high school where we had to declare a major and would concentrate our study on that area for our last 3 years. My major was commercial art. When I got to college, I wasn't required to continue in that area, but I did.

    So of course now my career is in computer programming.

  • by jocknerd ( 29758 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @03:03PM (#20252827)
    I graduated high school in 1985. I remember having to select a path my sophomore year. I chose the "Academic" path which allowed me to take Honors and AP courses. I was no longer eligible to take some other classes like shop. I figured this was the better way to go.

    Today, I earn $50K as a developer. I should have gone the "vocational" route and taken shop. I could have become a housing developer and made millions the last decade.

    Thanks for guiding me down the right path high school!
  • by AnotherBlackHat ( 265897 ) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @03:17PM (#20252963) Homepage
    Most kids in my school thought of it as a baby sitting service, not a place of education.
    Want kids to be interested in school? Give them an actual reason to do well.
    Let them leave once they have achieved a minimum level of competence in the core subjects.
    My guess is that about half the students (the half that currently do not go on to college) would work pretty hard at learning the subjects if they knew that once they had mastered them, they would no longer be subject to the school system.
    Then set up a decent secondary education system, for all those that decide that they need more education, after they've had a taste of the real world.

    -- Should you believe authority without question?

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein