College Not for Everyone
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has a database that uses a formula for each state to determine the number of jobs in a given area per thousand people (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ia.htm) . The data clearly shows that in Iowa many of the jobs are and will be in the middle skill area which do not require advanced degrees. However, many do require post-secondary training through vocational or apprenticeship programs. For example, one of the higher need areas is in/ will be in the installation, maintenance and repair occupation field where there are 44.9 jobs available per 1,000 working age adults (44.9/1,000). Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations is at 30.5/1,000 and office and administrative support occupations is at 146.3/1,000. These are just a few of the vocational areas where our state has critical shortages, and most of these jobs provide employees with enough income to be considered “middle class”, which according to the Business Insider website (http://www.businessinsider.com/middle-class-in-every-us-state-2015-4) means having a household income between $34,819- $104, 458. According to the publication Iowa Watch http://iowawatch.org/2015/05/10/plenty-of-2015-college-grads-will-continue-exodus-trend-from-iowa/ ) half of the graduates from the University of Iowa and from Iowa State University will leave the state upon graduation, primarily to look for work. This leads me to an obvious question which is; why are we sending so many of our high school graduates off to four year colleges which will leave them with few in state job prospects in their degree areas and skyrocketing college loan debts? I therefore propose we increase vocational and technical education opportunities for our students at the secondary level. However, over the last few years the ICCSD has gotten rid of many programs that served to introduce students to vocational and technical fields such as auto maintenance, welding, and home construction. If we are truly a “data driven” school district, the planned demise of those programs seems counterintuitive. Of course I support students who do go on to traditional four year colleges- we also have critical shortages of health care professionals in our state as well as teachers and engineers. However, not all students have the academic skill set or desire to pursue careers in those academically challenging fields. During that same time period we also saw an increase in the amount of AP and Honors classes being offered. It is time for the ICCSD do look at the data and take actions that make sense for all of our students.