Provide Career Opportunities

Many of the thousands of young Ohioans who drop out of school each year simply don’t see anything in it for them. Let’s face it: Public schools seem geared toward getting students ready for college – not jobs.

Gov. John Kasich’s proposal to expand and improve career and technical programs – what we used to call vocational education – makes an enormous amount of sense. His idea of beginning exposure to vocational courses as early as middle school is realistic.

East Ohioans are well aware of the need to shift priorities in education. Name a degree available at a four-year institution of higher learning, and chances are it is not as much in demand among employers as training that can be put to use in finding, drilling for or processing natural gas. Some local residents are making more in that industry than are their high school classmates who went to college.

Obviously, certain basic knowledge is needed by all high school graduates, regardless of what they plan to do after graduation. Increasing availability of career and technical training emphatically does not mean abandoning the basics.

But it does mean working with industry to understand what types of training companies want potential employees to have. It does mean providing that kind of education.

And, in Kasich’s mind, it means starting early.

Some have criticized the governor’s plan, insisting middle school is too early to lock young people into career paths.

Well, of course it is. But that is not what Kasich has in mind. He wants Buckeye State middle schools to do a better job of exposing students to potential careers that do not require college degrees – but do involve vocational training.

Middle school is the perfect time to do that. It also may be the perfect stage in a young student’s life to convince him or her that school does have something valuable to offer.