Geoffrey Canada gets lots of deserved attention for the enormous work he has done with the Harlem Children’s Zone to create opportunity for disadvantaged children. Equity Blog recently reported that other communities around the country are also creating “Promise Neighborhoods,” tapping into millions in funding made available by the Obama Administration.
In applauding these initiatives for encouraging more low-income kids to go to college, we ought to bear in mind that for many of these kids, college may not be the best pathway to the American Dream. Even if they excel in high school, they may lack the strong adult guidance needed to stay focused on their schoolwork. Or they may not be able to afford rising tuition costs. Whatever the reason, college dropout rates among the poor are staggering.
Moreover, economic forecasts by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce indicate that significant job growth is expected through 2018 in positions that require specialized post-secondary training but NOT a four-year college degree – such as dental hygienist, construction manager, electrician, health technologist, paralegal, and nurse. This is why “Pathways to Prosperity,” a Harvard Graduate School of Education report issued earlier this year, recommends that high schools develop other models besides college for helping young people transition to adulthood.