Career Training Seeping into Classrooms Some Fear Businesses' Influence on Education

By Kutz, Karen | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 18, 2000 | Go to article overview

Career Training Seeping into Classrooms Some Fear Businesses' Influence on Education


Kutz, Karen, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


At 18, Glenbard North senior Allan Emmens knows what he wants to do when he grows up and is well on his way down the path to a successful career in film.

The Glendale Heights resident credits a career program he began as a junior for his early planning.

"I will have much more knowledge when I go to college because I found out what it (filmmaking) was like beforehand," he said.

With firm plans to major in film at Chicago's Columbia College next year, Emmens already is entering his work in state contests to beef up his resume.

He spends half his day in classes at his Carol Stream school, and the other half in the media and film program at Technology Center of DuPage in Addison or as an intern editing video at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington.

The time away from school doesn't hurt his education, Emmens said.

"If anything it has added to it," he said. "There is so much math in what I do, so it motivates me to learn more. And I go to class with a better understanding."

Emmens could serve as a poster child for a new program the state is pushing that came out of President Clinton's Goals 2000 plan for schools.

Known as Education-to-Careers, it promises to change the way children learn in school - beginning in kindergarten.

Education-to-Careers is gaining momentum locally among educators, business executives and community leaders - 75 met Wednesday at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn to learn more.

But it is also drumming up a handful of opponents who say schools would be letting businesses dictate what our children learn.

Indeed, a survey distributed to business leaders Wednesday led with the question, "Would you like to Custom-Design Your Future Workforce?"

The very question puts several area educators on edge.

"Businesses are going to be very involved in education and picking our curriculum for us," said Indian Prairie Unit District 204 school board member Jeanette Clark, whose district serves students in Naperville and Aurora.

Clark questions whether so much emphasis should be put on earning a living - especially at the elementary level.

"This philosophy is slowly weaving its way into the very fabric of education," she said. "One day we will wake up and realize what happened."

Clark maintains parents are left out of the mix on the new "work force" philosophy seeping into schools. Without parents weighing in, students will make career choices based on what kind of labor force businesses seek.

"Do you want businesses in education? They have their own agenda and will be asking what will be in it for them," agreed Holly Luke, a teacher at Brookdale Elementary School in Naperville.

Business leaders at this week's COD meeting did ask how Education-to-Careers would benefit them.

Mike Skarr, executive director of the Naperville Chamber of Commerce, was among those who talked about the benefits of adding high school students to the payroll in partnership with the schools.

Besides filling low-level jobs, students often return to work for the companies after college, saving recruitment and advertising costs. One recruiter even called it a "trial probation period."

"In a tight labor market, employers need additional sources of qualified workers," said Rosanne Mesce of the Management Association of Illinois. …

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