"Hey, this would make a good show for Midmorning," I hollered over the cubicle walls the other day while I was writing this post last week about the Governor's Workforce Development Council proposal to the Legislature to require students to develop a plan for their future careers as early as the ninth grade. Some people say it's not early enough; others say it pigeon-hole's kids into a career track.
So Midmorning will take the first 45 minutes of the first hour of the show this morning to discuss the topic.
I'll be in the studio live-blogging the program with Jim Bierma, lead counselor of Minneapolis public schools; Randall Hansen, founder of Quintessential Careers, a career development Web site; and Marc Scheer, researcher, educational consultant, and career counselor with a Ph.D. in counseling psychology. His book is called "No Sucker Left Behind: Avoiding the Great College Rip-off."
None of them is on the Council but we'll be talking about the role of schools and the pros and cons of this idea. That's where you come in. Post your thoughts in the comments section below now or during the show and I'll pull the best ones out to read on the air and ask the guests to address.
9:03 a.m. - We're about ready to go. Jim is describing his work with the Minneapolis Public Schools. We've got some good comments that we can insert into the show if we get a chance. Keep them coming.
9:07 a.m. - Recommended reading: Career and college planning needs of 9th graders.
9:10 a.m. - Jim Bierma says by around 10th grade, students have more realistic plans. But if a student says he wants to be an NBA basketball player, "we go with that." We never tell them they can't, he says, but they emphasize that college will be necessary for that. He favors the career track, saying it helps students become more motivated.
9:12 a.m. - Randall Hansen says the #1 answer of students when asked what they want to do it "I don't want to work behind a desk all day." He says the governor's proposal may be geared to "cost saving." "It just limits people, especially so early to say 'oh, you're on a community college track, if your grades improve we can review that.' It limits the students' view of what's possible."
9:15 a.m. - Bierma says they're not putting kids on a community college track. He says students can change their career plan at any time. He says surveys of parents and students shows support for career plans (tracks).
My question: What if a student doesn't have a plan for a career at the 9th grade. Does this push them to decide something and is that good or bad?
9:18 a.m. - Matt in Luverne, a high school senior calls. Says he had tons of ideas of what to do and it was good to see options. But he didn't like the idea of making kids write down what they might want to do. "It puts undue stress" on the kids.
9:19 a.m. - John from Bloomington says this is the German model of education. He says students are put on a trade track or an education track. He says it reduces student anxiety.
9:24 a.m. - Marc Scheer says he falls out on the side of being concerned about students' financial futures. The current generation of students graduating are Generation Debt. They're receiving lower salaries than they expect. He'd like to see consideration of future salaries become a bigger part of the picture.
Tangent time As you know, I've been talking to kids on campus for the last few weeks, asking them where their "passion" for the choice of their direction comes from. In interviews with 60+ kids so far, I haven't met anyone who says it came from anything that happened in high school.
9:28 a.m. - A parent of a 9th grader calls and says she fears that instead of having a variety of resources available to help kids make decisions, what we'll have is a tracking where people were told at an early age, you should do this or you should do that. She also says there aren't enough counselors in schools, a fact also brought up by several people in the comments section below.
Jim says Minnesota is last in the nation for school counselors per student. "We're also optimistic that we do a lot of things in classrooms. School counselors are all about getting girls in science and math and we do not tell people, 'you cannot do this.'"
9:38 a.m. - Andrew, a high school student, wants to get into the performing arts and he says it's hard to find good information. What's available for him, he asks? Jim says he would show him Web sites for colleges that have strong acting programs.
Is that a decision Andrew could've made in 9th grade? Yes, he says.
9:40 a.m. - A caller says she would've "sold herself short" if she had made decisions in the 9th grade. She also wonders why Minnesota would move forward with this plan without a foundation in place to support it?
Marc says there's a danger students could get locked into something rigid at an early age. "No one wants a 13 or 14 year old to make all their life decisions, but at the same time we need more of a career emphasis in high school."
Jim says school counselors are promoting a program that doesn't lock students into anything.
9:42 a.m. - I'm having a flashback to the mid-90s when there was a worker shortage in Minnesota and businesses were concerned that they wouldn't have enough well-trained workers. It led to efforts to increase emphasis on career tracks in high schools, and caused a debate on what schools are for: to provide "enlightenment" or to make workers for businesses?
9:50 a.m. - Dr. Hansen, one of the guests earlier in the hour, has posted this follow-up in the comments section.
Hi. One thing I wanted to follow-up on from the show this morning is the importance of something Jim said... that I think it is important to tie interests to possible careers and jobs -- so high school students can then do the research themselves and find out information about the type of work, the pay, the values, the job outlook, and so forth about each type of career.
Too often students -- in high school or college -- choose a major, say philosophy -- as Jim mentioned -- and proceed with no clue as to the kinds of jobs they could get with that major... or they assume they will just continue on to graduate school.
We have a section on QuintCareers.com that we call real jobs for real majors -- where students can find a list of jobs for just about any type of college major.
Thanks again for having me on the show.
Just a couple of days after Barack Obama nominated New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg to be the Secretary of Commerce, there's an indication the new president doesn't trust his new nominee, at least when it comes to the delicate matter of the U.S. Census.
According to Congressional Quarterly:
After black and Hispanic leaders raised concerns over Commerce Secretary-nominee Judd Gregg 's commitment to core functions of the Census Bureau, a senior White House official told CQ on Wednesday that the director would report directly to the White House.
That brought fire Thursday from Republicans, who accused the White House of attempting to gain advantage in the politically delicate process of counting Americans and of violating the law by circumventing the Commerce secretary. The decennial census is used to determine the apportionment of congressional districts among the states and federal funding for numerous programs.
Yesterday the New York Times criticized Obama's pick:
Mr. Gregg was never a friend of the census. As chairman of the Senate committee that oversees the Commerce Department's budget, he frequently tried to cut the bureau's financing. In 1999, he opposed emergency funds for the 2000 census requested by President Bill Clinton and the Republican-controlled House.
The census is used to allocate federal aid to states and draw electoral districts. Given all that, one would think that the White House would be paying more attention. It isn't. A director of the census, who must be confirmed by the Senate, has yet to be named.
And this all follows the fallout of two nominees who ended up having tax problems. And some Obama supporters are frustrated by the the attitude of the White House press corps.
President Obama is having a really terrible week.(2 Comments)
There's something about the early part of a gorgeous sunrise (this one was from this morning), that makes you feel like anything is possible in the coming day.
And then the sun comes up.(2 Comments)
When Gov. Tim Pawlenty flew to Germany last year to attend a conference on terrorism and security, there were a few suggestions that the governor was burnishing his credentials in the interest of ending up on the presidential ticket. At the time, the governor dismissed the suggestion, saying he was invited because he chaired the National Governors Association. But we were all in "he wants to be vice president" mode, despite his denials (at the time), and all of his moves were run through the VP aspirations filter.
As I pointed out last year, only one other governor with NGA connections had been invited in the previous nine years.
This year's rationale: Minnesota is sending National Guard soldiers to Iraq, so "it's helpful to have a deep understanding of security issues," his spokesman said.
The federal government is paying the bill.
Aside: The U of M's Smart Politics blog does a nice analysis of Gov. Pawlenty's approval ratings and says anyone who thinks the governor will lose popularity in a budget showdown with the DFL should think again.(2 Comments)
Here's something we haven't heard the two "finalists" for the U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota talking about in months: Issues. Norm Coleman and Al Franken have come out of -- more or less -- hiding today. They're holding individual sessions with reporters.
Most of the talk, naturally, is about their continuing recount/court challenge to last November's vote, but MPR's Tom Crann pushed some issues during his interviews. Coleman said he does not support the Obama economic stimulus package.
"I'm trying to be ready; that's one of the challenges," Coleman said. "I've talked to Sen. Susan Collins. We need to move this economy forward, but on the other hand we can't be spending tens or hundreds of billions of dollars on things which have no impact on economic reform."
Coleman returned to the spotlight by attending several of the hearings in his lawsuit filed after the official recount showed him losing to Al Franken by a few hundred votes.
"I don't know if there is a next step," Coleman told Crann (Listen) when asked what the next step is if a count of additional absentee ballots shows him losing to Franken. Coleman said he's learned a lot about elections in Minnesota by sitting in the court and listening to election experts (one of whom was on MPR's Midday today).
Franken says he'd be a vote for Obama's stimulus package if he were in the Senate.
"I don't think there's too much in the bill," he said. " We need this and I believe most Americans want this but most Americans are skeptical about whether this is going to do the job and they deserve to know that this money is going to be spent wisely." (Listen)
"One of the things I've done to be ready is talk to Collin Peterson's staff about layoffs at the Polaris plant up in Roseau. There is a flood mitigation project there -- shovel ready -- in the stimulus package... and I think it would be good for us to have two votes. Same token: This buy-America provision that's in the package, that's a very good thing for the Iron Range ... that the stimulus projects have American steel in them, that's a huge boon for the Iron Range," he said. (Listen)
Franken acknowledged that waste and abuse of stimulus money is a possibility. He said he favored creation of a Truman Commission to find instances of fraud and abuse. As a senator, Harry Truman uncovered millions of dollars in waste in the prosecution of World War II.
Should money from President Obama's economic stimulus bill be used to pay down an operating deficit in the metro area transit system? Or should it be used to expand that system along with whatever jobs that theoretically could provide?
The answer from the Met Council today? Pay off the bills.
Peter Bell, the head of the Met Council, told a legislative committee on Thursday that he'd favor using the $87 million targeted for transit, to pay off his agency's operating deficit.
Says Finance & Commerce
Bell conceded Thursday that "at present," those dollars aren't intended for covering deficits in regular operational expenses. But he suggested a workaround -- some federal block grant dollars currently targeted for Met Council capital costs could be moved to cover operating costs, while stimulus dollars could go toward "what we originally intended those capital dollars be used for."
Bell's suggestion for how the money could be used for something it isn't intended for, illustrates a dilemma facing stimulus supporters -- that money will be moved from account to account to keep everything legal, but in the end nothing gets done that wasn't going to get done anyway.
Bell said he'd be reluctant to use stimulus money to expand transit programs while the agency is running a deficit. On Wednesday, he indicated he's reluctant to raise fares or reduce service.(15 Comments)