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The Latest Fad In Public Schools [Choose a Major]
CWN ^ | August 29, 2007 | Phyllis Schlafly

Posted on 08/28/2007 9:09:24 PM PDT by stainlessbanner

Every few years a new fad sweeps across the public schools. We've had self-esteem, new math, whole language, New Age, outcome-based education, school-to-work, mental health screening, school-based clinics, global education, diversity, multiculturalism, and early childhood education.

The newest public school fad was announced last week on the front page of the New York Times, so educators must be taking it seriously. If it hasn't come to your town yet, no doubt it will come soon.

Freshmen at Dwight Morrow High School in New Jersey, starting this fall, must declare a major, and they must take at least one course in that subject every trimester for four years. The major will be noted on their diploma.

How many kids between the ages of 14 and 18 do you think ever change their minds about what they like and don't like? Let's rephrase my question: do you know any teenagers who don't change their minds frequently?

Most teens have a hard time deciding what to wear, what to eat, and with whom they will go to the prom. Probably most students haven't even selected their lifetime career when they start college.

But at Dwight Morrow, those who change their minds are out of luck. If they find they don't like their original choice, they can't change unless they produce a "compelling reason," but even that may not be sufficient.

In preparation for this "choose major" plan, students were asked to write essays about what they wanted to specialize in. The most popular subject chosen was sports management.

The Times quoted a girl named Akelia who at 14 declared she wanted to be a lawyer, but after two years realized how much work she would have to put in studying "boring" cases, so she tried to switch to computers. Alas, she found she was locked into her major and not permitted to change.

Don't worry about students' difficulty in making a decision. They will be assisted by a school guidance counselor whose task is to map out a six-year career path that even includes the first year of college.

If a teen is a world-class genius like Michelangelo, it could be a good thing to get started developing his talent early. But most of us are not Michelangelos, and we can't count on the "choose major" experiment to produce modern Michelangelos.

Most teens are not ready to lock into a lifetime career so early; they need to explore and investigate options and opportunities. Anyway, there are magnet schools for those who are ready for specialization.

It is customary for educators to initiate their new fads in poorer schools where they feel they have a better chance to con parents and students into believing that they are getting the most modern improvements in education. The Dwight Morrow classrooms are ridiculously labeled Harvard, Yale and Rutgers.

Dwight Morrow is a high school with low test scores and racial tensions. Three-quarters are black or Hispanic, and 60 percent qualify for free or reduced lunches.

This "choose major" fad seems to have spread nationwide under the radar without prior publicity. Apparently some hundreds of high schools now require students to specialize, but most are not so rigid as to require a major.

Mississippi has a pilot program to have ninth graders choose one of seven career paths from construction to technology.

Like any new school fad, "choose major" of course requires more taxpayer funding. The New Jersey district has hired five new teachers, and set up advisory boards for each track that include performing artists, doctors, and lawyers.

Public schools should teach all first-graders to read by the time-tested phonics system, and teach all schoolchildren to know and use the fundamentals of arithmetic by the end of the third grade. This would end the shocking epidemic of illiteracy that now permits students to get into high school and even graduate without being able to read, write or calculate change at the grocery store.

Choosing a major won't solve the problem of high school dropouts who can't read, write, add, subtract, multiply, or divide. Public schools will remain a national embarrassment unless and until the fundamentals are taught in elementary classes.


TOPICS: Education; Society
KEYWORDS: fad; major; public; school

1 posted on 08/28/2007 9:09:26 PM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: weegee; metmom

ping - you might be interested


2 posted on 08/28/2007 9:10:00 PM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: stainlessbanner

Are schools trying to burn kids out on learning as quickly as possible?


3 posted on 08/28/2007 9:11:30 PM PDT by Mr. Blonde (You ever thought about being weird for a living?)
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To: Mr. Blonde

No kidding. Is “pro-athlete” a major?


4 posted on 08/28/2007 9:14:01 PM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: stainlessbanner

You would be surprised. At my university, football and basketball players generally come to class, maybe take off their ipod, never take notes and then hope to pass enough classes to stay eligible to play. And of course the academic support staff knows which professors are most sympathetic to the cause of keeping the FB and BB teams eligible.


5 posted on 08/28/2007 9:19:02 PM PDT by Mr. Blonde (You ever thought about being weird for a living?)
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To: stainlessbanner

Dwight Morris High School shares its campus with a magnet school that has kids concentrate in one of 5 areas:
Finance, Information Systems, Law and Public Safety, Pre-Engineering, and Biomedicine.

According to Wikipedia, Dwight Morris High School has problems. Maybe the admins thought that becoming more like the magnet school would help.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwight_Morrow_High_School


6 posted on 08/28/2007 9:49:57 PM PDT by LibFreeOrDie (L'Chaim!)
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To: stainlessbanner

7 posted on 08/28/2007 10:07:53 PM PDT by Luke Skyfreeper
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To: Luke Skyfreeper
OTOH, maybe I'm too quick to judge here. Maybe this school is in such deep trouble that doing something, anything, just might help...
8 posted on 08/28/2007 10:10:31 PM PDT by Luke Skyfreeper
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To: Mr. Blonde
Are schools trying to burn kids out on learning as quickly as possible?

From what I've sen in the public school system, there's no danger of that happening.

9 posted on 08/28/2007 10:37:01 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: stainlessbanner
How many kids between the ages of 14 and 18 do you think ever change their minds about what they like and don't like?

I was thirty before I declared my major and finished up with my degree.

There's hardly a college students who doesn't change majors from the time they enter college.

Expecting them to know at 14. Utterly ridiculous.

10 posted on 08/28/2007 10:39:44 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: stainlessbanner; DaveLoneRanger; 2Jedismom; Aggie Mama; agrace; Antoninus; arbooz; bboop; ...

ANOTHER REASON TO HOMESCHOOL

This ping list is for the “other” articles of interest to homeschoolers about education and public school. If you want on/off this list, please freepmail me. The main Homeschool Ping List by DaveLoneRanger handles the homeschool-specific articles.

The reasons keep piling up.

My 15 year old daughter has changed her mind about what she wants to do with her life about 693 times in the last year.

I keep telling her to wait until she's had some more science courses to decide. She's really good in physics and earth science. We'll see how she does with chemistry and bio.

11 posted on 08/28/2007 10:43:06 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: stainlessbanner
Public schools should teach all first-graders to read by the time-tested phonics system, and teach all schoolchildren to know and use the fundamentals of arithmetic by the end of the third grade. This would end the shocking epidemic of illiteracy that now permits students to get into high school and even graduate without being able to read, write or calculate change at the grocery store.

Choosing a major won't solve the problem of high school dropouts who can't read, write, add, subtract, multiply, or divide. Public schools will remain a national embarrassment unless and until the fundamentals are taught in elementary classes.

This says it all.

12 posted on 08/28/2007 10:46:39 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: stainlessbanner

This would end the shocking epidemic of illiteracy that now permits students to get into high school and even graduate without being able to read, write or calculate change at the grocery store.
······················································

The same government-gestapo-educrates who are responsible for this mountain of failure are the same people who want total control over homeschooling.


13 posted on 08/29/2007 3:09:32 AM PDT by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid.)
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To: metmom

This would end the shocking epidemic of illiteracy that now permits students to get into high school and even graduate without being able to read, write or calculate change at the grocery store. ( from the article)

“””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

The solution: Permanently shut down all government K-12 schools. THIS will end the epidemic of illiteracy.


14 posted on 08/29/2007 3:13:32 AM PDT by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid.)
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To: stainlessbanner

My son had earned his AA by the time he was 17, but all courses had just been general requirements. When he had to declare his major in order to transfer to a University, it was very hard. He talked to advisors, got our input, talked to others, and finally decided. It was a good fit for him, but we know others that went a similar route (dual credit,) and they have since changed their major at the end of their Junior year. Changing your major is certainly doable, but it does waste your $$$, because classes you’ve taken toward one major aren’t usually interchangeable with classes in another major.

I can’t imagine as a Freshman in HS what it would be like to have to decide...and what happens if a kid changes their mind by the time they’re a Junior in HS...the article says they’re locked in and can’t change, how sad.


15 posted on 08/29/2007 3:23:16 AM PDT by dawn53
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To: stainlessbanner
The Times quoted a girl named Akelia who at 14 declared she wanted to be a lawyer, but after two years realized how much work she would have to put in studying "boring" cases, so she tried to switch to computers. Alas, she found she was locked into her major and not permitted to change.

If the program at Dwight Morrow is starting this fall, where does Akelia and her "after two years ..." come from? I agree this is a goofy idea, and I agree that any real improvements in education have to start with teaching the 6- and 7-year-olds to read and do basic math.

However, this article is a sloppy redaction of the Times's. Mrs. Schlafly can do better.

16 posted on 08/29/2007 3:46:34 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Gravity! It's not just a good idea, it's the law!)
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To: metmom

Amen!


17 posted on 08/29/2007 5:37:11 AM PDT by SMARTY ("Stay together, pay the soldiers and forget everything else." Lucius Septimus Severus)
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To: metmom
Face it, the American educational system is a perfect failure. The funny part is, if American people were forced to accept ANY other product or service which was as flawed as public education in this country, they would scream themselves red till the best product/service for the money would be available to them. Somehow, they have habituated themselves to mediocrity and worse in public education and actually prefer it. Myself, if I had a school age kid, you’d have to put a gun to my head to get me to enroll him in public schools.
18 posted on 08/29/2007 5:46:24 AM PDT by SMARTY ("Stay together, pay the soldiers and forget everything else." Lucius Septimus Severus)
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To: stainlessbanner

HS counselors are not suited to plan anything in the first place, in my experience. My HS counselor was infatuated with over the road trucking. He mentioned it first as a vocation to anybody who visited the office.


19 posted on 08/29/2007 6:31:52 AM PDT by steveyp
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To: stainlessbanner

This is not a bad thing if done right. The HS I went to always had majors. As an Engineering and Technical School Kids picked between Fields like Biological, Chemical, Computer, or Electrical technology. And you were not married to your field I entered as Computer but switched to chemical.

There was a core of classes everyone had to take (4 English, 3 Foreign Language, 3 Math, 4 History Social Science, 3 Basic Science (Everyone took Biology, Chemistry, and Physics) and 3 Phys ed. On top of this there were ap courses offered for those who had the time in Physics, Math, Foreign Language. Finally you had you core speciality classes, as a Chem Tech, for example, in addition to the regular chemistry you had to take Organic, Semi-Micro Qual, and Regents Chem.

Point is they filled your schedule, where most schools had eight periods including a lunch we had eight periods *and* a lunch and when you graduated you had everything other schools taught *plus* some core AP classes. If you failed the AP courses you got just a city diploma.

Now for those who say this type of thing pigon holes kids... Of my friends not *1* graduated from college with a diploma similar to what the subject studies in HS. For example I received a degree in EE, my friend who was also Chem Tech is a lawyer, my other friend who was Electrical is now a computer artist.


20 posted on 08/29/2007 7:29:01 AM PDT by N3WBI3 (Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak....)
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To: SMARTY

People are up in arms about Chinese goods and the hazard they are posing. You’re right, anything else, and it wouldn’t stand a chance.

Instead, the fix that they’re been trying to do for all these years is throw more money at it and it’s proved to not work anyway.


21 posted on 08/29/2007 7:56:43 AM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: stainlessbanner

I had a wrong-headed idea of what I wanted to major in when I went to college, and unfortunately I stuck with it and got my degree.

High school students should be encouraged to explore, not specialize.

Mrs VS


22 posted on 08/29/2007 9:23:35 AM PDT by VeritatisSplendor
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To: metmom

Actually, this is not a bad idea. It would be better if there were more choices of courses in grade school.

But it’s far too late for any of this to work. Public education is unable to clean its own house. The only real option is for people to stop using them.


23 posted on 08/29/2007 4:35:51 PM PDT by Clintonfatigued (Illegal aliens commit crimes that Americans won't commit)
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To: Clintonfatigued

I don’t think it’s all bad. Some kids know from a young age what they want to do with their lives, and allowing them to take courses that would prepare them for that is a good idea.

The problem I see here is that once the kids are in, they’re locked in and aren’t allowed to change unless they can provide some compelling reason. The main problem with that is if the school doesn’t want to be bothered with going through what it takes to help a kid change majors, then no reason, no matter how good in reality, will be compelling enough for them to admit it.

Considering most of the kids wanted to major in *sports management* shows how little they understand what’s involved in different careers and how weak their grasp on reality is.

Locking a kid in to something they hate for four years of high school is a waste of their time. Then it could become time for college and they won’t have any of the necessary courses needed to prepare them for their major. Like the girl in the article. Starting out as a lawyer and switching to computer science; she’ll be dead in the water in college because she won’t have ANY experience in that field and will be learning it all from scratch at the college level.

Now that I think about it, I don’t like the idea. The kids should really be exposed to many different areas to give them an idea of just what might interest them enough to pursue as a career choice in college. After all, that’s where you really get the education you need in your career field.


24 posted on 08/29/2007 7:15:58 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: metmom
Now that I think about it, I don’t like the idea. The kids should really be exposed to many different areas to give them an idea of just what might interest them enough to pursue as a career choice in college. After all, that’s where you really get the education you need in your career field.

They have this sort of program at my local high school. They don't make the kids choose until sophomore year. Supposedly, by getting kids to think ahead to a career, they will see purpose to their high school learning and work harder and stay in school.

I doubt it will accomplish much.

25 posted on 08/30/2007 8:40:25 PM PDT by Dianna
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