In Minnesota, the Department of Education states their high school graduation requirements as, “a core course of study that equips them with the knowledge and skills they need for success in post-secondary education, highly skilled work, and civic life.”
I interpret from their requirements that the DOE thinks success in post-secondary education and highly skilled work are mutually inclusive. Sadly, nowhere in the graduation requirements is an inclusion of Industrial Arts, which, in my work world, is considered highly skilled work.
Those course credits required by the state for graduation are:
4 credits of language arts
3 credits of mathematics
3 credits of science
3½ credits of social studies
1 credit in the arts
7 elective credits
School districts may require additional course credits or other requirements for graduation beyond the minimum required by the state.
Fortunately, my local school district has Industrial Arts as a graduation requirement.
My local school district’s Systems Accountability Committee (also known as curriculum review) met in September and voted to change Industrial Arts as a requirement for graduation, to an option. The proposal is to allow students to choose 1 ½ credits from any one of Business, Agriculture, or Industrial Arts. I sit on the committee but could not be there. Last Spring the same issue was brought up, and I was able to turn the idea away. In spite of my raising concern with the high school principal, it has progressed through a policy drafting phase.
Our local high school has a wood shop, a CNC Machining Center, a welding lab, CAD Software, all the things that I would think would contribute to learning “highly skilled work” abilities.
Over time, that equipment has been utilized less and less. Now it may not be used at all.
Yet, the Department of Education talks of teaching preparation for “highly skilled work”, yet not following through on that commitment for ALL STUDENTS. Meaning the non-college bound students or even more so, the college bound students that determine college is not for them.
Talk to your State Representatives and Senators. Ask why Industrial Arts is not a graduation requirement at the state level. Aside from helping students understanding how things are made and work, and being able to deal with grown up issues like car repairs, fixing lawn mowers and light fixtures, they may be introduced to a possible career path that IS “highly skilled work”. Trades people like technicians, electricians, plumbers, and machinists. Careers that pay a higher starting mage than many college graduates get.
The Department of Education needs to live up to their mandate of equipping ALL students with the knowledge and skills they need for success. It appears they are only focused on the college bound students.