TEN IDEAS: Add a Second Track to High School Education

Last week, I told you about my radical idea to scrap the current education-funding mechanism (property taxes) and replace it gradually with consumption taxes. This week, I’m going to explore an even more radical idea: Adding a second track for high school students.

First, the “Why” – As many as 11% of Ohio families with a full-time worker are living in poverty. Meanwhile, there are thousands of middle-class jobs available for people with vocational skills, such as welding, computer coding, and the trades. If that 11% of families had a breadwinner with a marketable skill, that family would see its income double. Meanwhile, the skills gap in America is a major problem for industry. Ohio’s employers cannot find enough employees who can work a machine or engage in a trade, and it contributes to the nation’s trade deficit.

Second, the “Who” – Some students are not cut out for success in college. It’s a hard truth for parents, so we ignore it. That ignorance is why our current education system is designed to get as many kids to college as we can. We do a good job for “A” and “B” students, but don’t focus on getting “C” and other students into good careers. A second track is necessary for the success of kids who aren’t “book smart.”

Third, the “What” – I want to create a dual-education system that mimics Germany’s. A high-school student will have the option to enter into an apprenticeship in high school, where book learning will continue while a student begins receiving pay and real-life job training. Students will get skills training, will avoid $100,000 in college debt, and will have a natural suitor for a job that will pay $60,000-$90,000. The employers will get a pipeline of well-trained workforce that they currently need. By implementing a similar system, Germany has developed a trade surplus and slashed youth unemployment.

Fourth, the “How” – There is a great appetite for focusing on vocational training, but progress has been incremental and inadequate. By creating a distinct “second track,” we will give every student an option of how to proceed. For a borderline college student, there will be a second option that is truly enticing. And it’s not a question of “College, yes or no?” It’s a question of “College, now or later?”

Last, the “When” – Now! We can’t allow any more classes of graduates to pass by before we give our kids an additional path to success.


My notes from last night’s council meeting

Sometimes we have marathon meetings with 3 or 4 weighty issues. Sometimes, we only have about 20-30 minutes of discussion. Last night was the latter. Our longest discussions related to union negotiations and were within Executive Session, which by law are confidential.

Without further throat-clearing, here are my notes from the 10/11/18 Stow City Council meeting:

Downtown Stow – We sent out 10 RFPs to developers who might be interested in partnering with the city on a downtown project. We expect to have a lot more clarity on this subject by mid-November.

Route 8 – ODOT crews will be repaving the berm for another 3 weeks. Of importance to a lot of us northern Stow/southern Hudson residents, they will be installing the Seasons Road traffic signal in the next 45-60 days. Crews will also be patching the freeway so that it is navigable during the winter months, when it will be back to 3 lanes.

Police overtime – Stow is planning to spend an additional $100,000 on police overtime, mostly due to things outside the department’s control, such as one officer going to light duty during pregnancy, another officer’s medical leave, and another officer’s unexpected departure. While overtime sometimes saves taxpayers money (because time-and-a-half is still cheaper than benefits), there are limits to that. I think our police department has done a good job at managing employee time and finding that sweet spot.

Next meeting – Council will meet next on October 25.

Meeting Notes

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