Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What Employers Want

I was listening to NPR this morning and there was a story out of Aberdeen, SD.  Apparently, there are plenty of jobs in Aberdeen, but not enough "employable" people.  Aberdeen Mayor Mike Levsen says of his town's employers, "All they're asking is minimum education, good work habits, pass the drug test, show up for work on time and follow directions." 

It got me thinking, "Are we graduating employable people?"  Mr. Levsen's list are all traits that we, as parents, educators, and community leaders, want for our children.  As professional educators, we encourage students to stay in school, pay attention in class, and get an education.  Teachers give students tasks and assignments that provide them with opportunities to develop their work habits and follow directions.  Administrators have tardy and attendance policies to encourage students to attend classes.  Despite our best intentions and efforts, however, many high school students choose to not follow directions, not attend class, not complete assignments, not practice reading/writing, not try.  Many students are making poor decisions outside of school, as well, that may compound their issues and reduce their "employability." 

I realize (and am thankful) that there are many great, hard-working, focused, law/policy-abiding students at WHS.  If I were pressed to say what percentage of students were "employable" by Mr. Levsen's standards, I'd say that 80% of our high school students are.  However, if my estimate is correct, 20% of students at WHS who choose to not be "employable" equal approximately 160 students. In my opinion, that number is way too high and I hope we can someday reduce that number to zero.

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