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Educational and Career Advice and a Barely Changing Score

In the grand scheme of things – and even in much smaller schemes – two decades are not much more than a blip.  So, I don’t want to read too much into an article, published in 1997, that makes many of the same points about how young people choose between four-year colleges and other postsecondary institutions, aided and perhaps pressured by their parents, as does American Experiment’s current multi-year project, Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree: Good News for Students, Parents, and Employers.  Still, the consistency is interesting. The article, “The Gatekeepers,” was written by Kenneth Gray, a professor of education...

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Good News about Apprenticeships

President Trump signed an executive order last Thursday (June 15) significantly reducing federal oversight of apprenticeship programs that receive federal funds.  Good and good.  Or more precisely, less regulation will lead more businesses, unions, schools, and postsecondary institutions to participate in such programs.  And overwhelmingly they will do so responsibly, fiscally and in other ways, even with governmental officials demanding less paperwork than usual. One name that has come up frequently has been that of economist Robert I. Lerman, who has studied apprenticeships more insightfully, and advocated them more energetically, than any scholar I know.  In a 2013 paper, “Skill Development...

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How Many Truly Need a Four-Year College Degree?

Every day brings more news about the challenges businesses expect to face filling jobs as baby boomers continue marching toward retirement. Some of those opportunities require a traditional four-year college degree, but not as many as you might expect. That's just one of the takeaways from American Experiment's initiative focusing on great jobs that do not require a four-year degree. The Center's Kathy Kersten recently wrote a column on the program for the Bloomington Sun Current and sister publications. Many families would probably approach their teenagers’ post-secondary planning differently if they knew two key facts. Here’s the first: about 49 percent of...

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What’s CTE? And It Increased High School Graduation Rates by HOW Much?

If I had to guess, there is a general sense among adults in general that high schools in Minnesota and elsewhere around the country currently offer many fewer shop classes then they used to.  They’re right if they think that. If I had to guess a second time, I would say people in general are less familiar with the rise of something called “Career and Technical Education,” which might be thought of as encompassing – and significantly adding to – the aims of old-time shop classes. My own aim here is to report on an important 2016 study that found, among other...

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The Educational Value of Beautiful and Physically Demanding Things

What follows is propelled by Center of the American Experiment’s multi-year project “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree: Good News for Students, Parents, and Employers.” As a rule, I stay miles away from proposing that high schools expand their curricula to address assorted lists of societal problems.  I’ve been in meetings, for instance, when participants have said it’s essential that students take a required course regarding the personal and societal benefits of marriage.  An avid proponent of marriage as I may be, I’ve argued against these suggestions on two grounds: Such additions would further clutter what frequently are overstuffed curricula already. ...

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Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Here’s the lament we hear constantly from employers in Greater Minnesota: “We can’t find a skilled workforce—or grow as a community—because our kids can’t wait to leave town as soon as they finish high school.” One Minnesota high school—Wright Technical Center in Buffalo—is tackling this challenge head-on. Wright Tech is a consortium of eight school districts in Wright and Sherburne Counties, including Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose, Monticello, Delano, Maple Lake, Annandale, Big Lake, St. Michael-Albertville, and Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted. In 2015, Wright Tech launched a program called Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) using a model conceived by Illinois entrepreneur and educator Craig Lindvahl. Students in the program...

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An Impressive “Hand’s On, In-the-Seat” Program in Staples

Staples is 30 miles west of Brainerd in Minnesota Lake Country, hence the name Central Lakes College, with campuses in both cities. I spent an exceptionally profitable couple of hours at Staples’ two campuses last week when I was in town to speak about American Experiment’s new multi-year project “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree” at a dinner meeting sponsored by a group called “Crossroads Conservatives” at a restaurant and bar called “Twisted Sisters” (really).  In truth, the room didn’t seem terribly twisted at all and the crowd of approximately 35-40 men and women, plus a few high school students, wasn’t...

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Great Jobs and Inclusive Growth

My apologies in advance if what I write below about a recent conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis seems circular.  This is not a slam at the two-day meeting on “Opportunity and Inclusive Growth,” but rather pertains to the many inescapable connections among matters of education, families, jobs, income, wealth and other facts and conditions of local and national life.  Connections, for example, that are implicit in Center of the American Experiment’s major, multi-year initiative, “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree:  Good News for Students, Parents, and Employers.” One of the speakers at the conference, held May 22-23,...

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Legislature Ends Special Session: News on Transportation, Met Council & Education

The Legislature concluded the special session early Friday morning, sending a flurry of budget bills to Governor Dayton. Roads and bridges will get $2 billion over 10 years in existing revenue from automotive-related taxes (so taxes are not raised) plus about a billion in new bonding. This was the big goal. The K-12 bill increases spending by $483 million in addition to $800 million in automatic increases, for a total budget of $18.75 billion (a 3.5% increase). ...

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