每日跟讀#484 : To Innovate, the Workplace Comes to Class
In a sleek laboratory at Marshall University last month, four high school teachers hunched over a miniature steam-electric boiler, a tabletop replica of the gigantic machinery found in power plants.
They hooked the boiler to a small, whirring generator and tinkered with valves and knobs, looking for the most efficient way to turn coal, natural gas, nuclear or solar energy into electricity.
The teachers, who were attending a summer training program, are helping West Virginia in another kind of transformation. Long one of the poorest states, it is now leading the way in turning vocational education from a Plan B for underachieving students into what policymakers hope will be a fuel source for the state’s economic revival.
Simulated workplaces, overseen by teachers newly trained in important state industries like health, coal and even fracking — the energy industry's technique to extract oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure water, other mixtures, and chemicals, are now operating in schools across the state. Students punch a time clock, are assigned professional roles like foreman or safety supervisor, and are even offered several vacation days of their choice in addition to regular school breaks. (Many take time off during deer hunting season.)
Traditional math and English teachers have been reassigned to technical high schools, to make sure students on the vocational track still gain reading, writing and math skills.
And this fall, students enrolled in simulated workplaces will need to participate in one of the program’s boldest elements: random drug testing.
Given the extent of the state’s opioid crisis, employers “wouldn’t take anything we were doing seriously until we passed that hurdle,” said Barry Crist, principal of the Fayette Institute of Technology in Oak Hill.
West Virginia’s heavy push on vocational education comes as leaders of both parties have talked about making it a priority, a shift from the No Child Left Behind era of education reform, in which college for everyone was often the goal. In 2015, fewer than half of 25- to 34-year-olds nationwide had earned an associate or bachelor’s degree, according to census figures.
“Vocational training is a great thing,” President Donald Trump said a week before Election Day. “We’re going to start it up big league.” In June, he signed an executive order that redirected federal job training funds toward apprenticeships, in which students learn skills at actual work sites.
Source: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/317475/web/文／Dana Goldstein譯／李京倫
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