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[Susan notes: Good point! Educators should stop over-selling college and, even worse, selling it for the wrong reasons.]

Published in Education Week
05/18/2005

To the editor

In his otherwise penetrating analysis, Gary Hoachlander gives short shrift to the origin of the debate over the place that career and technical education occupies in todayís accountability movement. By failing to make a distinction between education and training, Mr. Hoachlander unwittingly adds to the confusion over the controversy. It is quite possible to be well educated but poorly prepared to earn a living, and vice versa.


Unfortunately, too many students have repeatedly been told that without a four-year degree from a college or university, they are dead in the water. But high school students are sophisticated enough to know about the many well-paying and gratifying jobs that do not require a college degree. By continuing to oversell the indispensability of a sheepskin, educators ultimately do a grave disservice to students and, in the process, lose credibility.


Just as there is life after high school, so too is there a bright future for many students who, for one reason or another, are not interested in college. Educators doubting this observation need to attend the periodic class reunions of the high schools where they worked. They would soon learn, decades after the graduation of their students, that an academic path is no assurance of anything except the individualís inner satisfaction.

Walt Gardner


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