Schools need to teach skills students can use

Educationally, Americans believe one size fits all. A recent letter writer indicated that American students are treated equally as opposed to other countries. Students leaving elementary schools graduate to high school and then are provided with prep school training.

When I taught at a suburban high school, students had a program that I thought was preparing them for the real world – DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America). In this program, students learned how to run the school store, complete with bookkeeping, purchasing, inventory and merchandise display skills. This was under the management of the business department.

With students in the United States carrying a $1 trillion debt load and three applicants for every job, maybe there should be an alternative to shipping most students to a four-year college.

Many junior colleges have programs leading to certificates in engineering in many fields. Graduates start at $40,000 a year because their skills are wanted by industry. When I went to Buffalo’s East High School, schools like Emerson, McKinley and Burgard listed courses in auto mechanics, plumbing, carpentry, construction, horticulture and food preparation. Because my brother graduated from Burgard, I have some experience with craft schools.

Good carpenters, plumbers, auto techs, etc., are worth their weight in gold. I noticed over the years that Buffalo allowed its craft schools to decline. I am sure this was at the behest of parents who would rather have a banker, a lawyer or a physician in their family than craft workers, who are just as valuable to the economy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are 5,000 people with doctorate degrees who hold jobs as janitors. The credential you get from a college is only worth the paper it’s printed on unless it indicates skills the marketplace can use. The United States needs a more versatile educational plan.

Richard Czarnecki