On Friday I had the privilege of attending the PACTA Conference in Hershey, PA. PACTA stands for the Pennsylvania Association of Career and Technical Administrators. While this might seem strange for a humanities teacher, it is truly something every educator should attend to understand the importance of incorporating career possibilities and real world application in to each and every subject. As educators, we spend an immense amount of time on our subject areas, but students often fail to realize how the information learned can be applied in the working world. They are not led down a path to understand what a major in a core subject area can do for them in the working world. There are many jobs where they can use the skills they learn in school, but we must teach them how.

Additionally, the stigma that surrounds students who attend career and technical institutions was discussed. If only intelligence and achievement in all areas were considered valuable, perhaps a stigma would be less problematic and evident. It came to my attention that many of the specific state requirements often conflict with the components of career readiness and technical education opportunities. Seat time is required and many rural schools are simply too far from a career center to send students for learning opportunities without damaging the School Performance Profile scores. Simply put, they can not go to a career center and fulfill seat time without a schedule alteration. This further complicates matters when many schools cannot afford to have career and technical education within their district as it is extremely costly and does not drastically benefit potential SPP scores.

Clearly, there is a problem here. Intelligence and achievement is valued in the classroom, and with exams, but what about those areas that we need people to focus on?  There are so many companies with job openings, but no one to fulfill them. Why? Many people lack the specialization and training as it is not emphasized in school. This certainly made me consider the future and what education would and should look like.