Everyone remembers them, the courses where you actually make things, the courses where you learn skills that you remember for the rest of your life, the courses where you apply what you learn into real-world skills. You may be surprised that most of the courses you remember no longer exist. A couple of schools still offer auto shop, but most shops have been converted to computer labs for standardized testing or are storage rooms. There are some great, modern programs like cyber security, culinary arts, 1st Responders program, and others, but for most students we severely lack the type of classes that make a child want to go to school – and that is a problem.
Vocational programs use a strategy I call “application education”. The concept is simple: the students apply the concepts being taught into a real-world application. We know it works. Research has shown that when we use project-based methods learning and student interest excels. Application education just steps it up to make the projects mean something – to solve real problems, to fulfill real needs. This is one of the differences I want to make as a school board member. It not only provides an education that is more inspiring, it gives our students skills that can lead to employment.
This approach has a great ripple effect. When students are engaged in learning, when they finally understand “why they need to know this”, they want to go to school. That helps to solve the terrible (lack of) attendance problem we are fighting. It also leads to less discipline problems because the students aren’t trapped at a desk being talked to, they are actively engaged in projects and it helps bridge the achievement gaps because education makes sense.
This is where my background as a classroom teacher, former member of the Florida Legislature serving on several education committees and as a vocationally certified teacher teaching classes that most students wanted to show up for makes me the best candidate for the Pinellas School board district 3.