The School-To-Work Revolution: How Employers and Educators Are Joining Forces to Prepare Tomorrow's Skilled Workforce

The School-To-Work Revolution: How Employers and Educators Are Joining Forces to Prepare Tomorrow's Skilled Workforce

The School-To-Work Revolution: How Employers and Educators Are Joining Forces to Prepare Tomorrow's Skilled Workforce

The School-To-Work Revolution: How Employers and Educators Are Joining Forces to Prepare Tomorrow's Skilled Workforce

Synopsis

In today's technology- and information-driven economy, businesses need an educated workforce to survive, and young people need to be educated to be employable. Yet the schools that prepare our future workers and the employers who hire them often remain worlds apart. In this clear, compelling book, longtime education journalist Lynn Olson makes the case that, for both economic and civic reasons, the only solution as America heads into the twenty-first century is for local employers andeducators to join forces. The School-to-Work Revolution provides the first full account of how the "school-to-work" or "school-to-career" movement is reshaping American education. This new model of schooling, which places students in the workplace for part of their learning, is gaining popularity across the country. Olson shows, in practical terms, how and where these efforts have worked, the promise they hold, and the obstacles they face. Aiming to end the current "dysfunctional" relationship between business andeducation, this new approach to schooling uses apprenticeships, internships, and solid career guidance to supplement new and more rigorous academic curricula. Olson recounts the experiences of companies and schools from South Carolina to Texas to Massachusetts to California, demonstrating that school-to-work students become more motivated in their studies and employers feel more confident about future workers. While "school-to-career" efforts can help all students meet higher academicstandards and prepare for a lifetime of learning, Olson points out that they need to be properly structured. In her case studies she shows how adequate follow-through is essential for businesses, and shows why educators need not feel their traditional purpose or role will be threatened. Both a theoretical blueprint for the goals of the movement and a practical guide on how to implement it, The School-to-Work Revolution will be essential reading for businesspeople, educators, and all those interested in our national debate on education reform.

Excerpt

In 1993, as a reporter for the newspaper Education Week, I began traveling around the country to visit a new generation of programs that link work and learning in high schools. I admit that I began this odyssey as a skeptic. Like many Americans who graduated from college and work in white-collar professions, I had a very traditional image of career-related education in my head. I grew up in an affluent suburb, took my full share of college-preparatory and advanced-placement courses, and graduated from a good college. The only vocational class I ever took was a dull course in home economics in junior high school, where we girls learned to sew and to cook while the boys grappled with large pieces of wood down the hall. The experience left me with the impression that career- related education was uninspiring and inconsequential.

This book is not about those kinds of programs. It focuses on efforts to create a much more substantive connection between education and work so that young people can be better prepared for the rapidly changing world that awaits them. Today's economy has little room for those who cannot read, write, compute, frame and solve problems, use technology, manage resources, work in teams, and continue to team on the job. Well-paying jobs for unskilled labor are disappearing at an alarming rate.

The traditional shop class is wholely inadequate to prepare young people for this new world. So, too, is the traditional academic class, with its emphasis on learning that is disconnected from the learning's application. As a recent national commission . . .

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