If the ever-questionable Gov. Jeb Bush has his way, Florida middle-schoolers may soon be trading their PlayStation 2s for graphing calculators.
In a press conference Feb. 15, Bush introduced more education plans that would toughen the curriculum for middle- and high-school students.
While the governor should be applauded for trying to strengthen the state school system, certain initiatives in the proposal raise the question: What exactly are the governor’s intentions?
According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, Bush is recommending the creation of a $50 million, multi-year “Ready to Work” certification program to ensure high school students have the skills to successfully transition to the workforce.
The program will give high school students the option of majoring in a vocational tract after finishing the core curriculum.
But why let them go to high school at all if they can start taking electrician’s classes in the ninth grade?
Choosing a major and minor area of study in high school puts Florida students in the very adult position of deciding on a career at the ripe age of 14.
Though the state may graduate more skilled, tax-paying citizens, it may also have less college educated citizens in the upper middle class tax bracket.
With recent initiatives like commissioning a study on the achievement gap between black males and other races and an increase in funding for diversity in higher education, Bush has set up the right combination of smoke and mirrors to mask what appears to be his true intention for Florida minorities.
In mostly minority communities where college education is not necessarily considered attainable, Bush’s vocational majors will give students the chance to make fast money right out of high school and erase any notion of a need for higher education.
Giving poor children the choice of making $50 now, or possibly making six-figures in the future will yield more auto-mechanics than college professors.
Bush’s A++ Program does offer opportunities for higher education to those who seek it, and the middle and high school curriculum could stand to be tougher.
But offering vocational programs in the public school system ensures that in the race to higher education, some children will be left behind.
Robbyn Mitchell is a junior newspaper journalism student from Washington, D.C. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.