Some Kids Just Aren’t Meant For College (Just As Long As We Are Talking About Your Kids, Not Mine)

By on February 8, 2019

From EQ:  “Some kids,” the Workforce Development Committee chair said, “just aren’t college material.”

A version of that statement has been uttered by countless participants in the countless number of workforce- and economic-development task forces and committees I’ve served on in my career. On the surface, a statement like that isn’t troubling — it’s the truth.

There are genuinely some people who don’t have an interest in or the ability to obtain a four-year degree.

The problem isn’t with the statement itself, or the reality that low-cost skills-based training alternatives need to be offered to students and adults who don’t have a four-year degree. The problem also isn’t a value-judgement on people who lack bachelor’s degrees. The smartest and most talented people I personally know are a former stay-at-home mom, a welder, a mechanic, and the manager of a Peterbilt dealership in rural Idaho.

Not a single one of those individuals has a college degree.

The problem is the hypocrisy and classism that drives much of the workforce and education discussion.

What do I mean?

Public sector workforce-development committees are usually stacked with the highly educated employees of local governments and other organizations with a stake in job creation and economic development. I once served on a workforce-development task force where the six participants had a combined eight graduate degrees. The irony of steering kids away from the educational opportunities that gave folks a seat at a table like that was lost on nearly every participant.

In my experience, private sector workforce-development task forces are usually stacked with successful owners and entrepreneurs. The hypocrisy in the industry-driven conversations isn’t best illustrated by the educational achievement of those owners and entrepreneurs. It’s best illustrated by how those entrepreneurs and owners choose to educate their own children.

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