Tilting at Windmills

January/February 2012 The old college fail

By Charles Peters

A couple of years ago, I wrote about how my son, a teacher in a high school in San Bern- adino, in southern California, had gradually realized that, despite his efforts to persuade his students to go to college, a significant number of them just weren’t interested. They wanted vocational training that would prepare them for the kinds of jobs in which they had an interest and for which they felt they had an aptitude. Unfortunately, that same training wasn’t provided by his high school, nor, for that matter, by the great majority of other public high schools—the reason, of course, being that almost all of us have embraced the “college is best for everyone” gospel.

Now, however, comes the Wall Street Journal with a major article about the jobs that are available now, but that can’t be filled. The number one category is “skilled trades.”

We need to do exactly what the Washington Post’s Fred Hiatt reports that South Koreans are doing: invest “in vocational schools designed to put young people on a career track without going to college.”

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.