What We’re Reading: Asking the Right Questions about Equity and Career Pathways

Author: Jenna Ahner

What We're Reading
The education world is facing an equity crisis. Students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners (to name a few) remain underserved by our current system. While many fight for solutions, gaps in our collective knowledge and understanding of the complexities around educational inequity linger.

Each month, the Rodel team will share some thoughts on a book, essay, article, or video related to equity in education with the hope that we will challenge both ourselves and others to think more inclusively about education reform.

 

 

What I’m Reading: 10 Equity Questions to Ask about Career and Technical Education, by Nancy Hoffman

 

In my role at Rodel, I focus on helping Delaware students pursue the college and career options that interest them. My passion for this work stems from my own experiences. As a first generation college student, I was incredibly lucky to have parents who encouraged me to go to college and a school counselor (thanks Mrs. Thievon!) who took an interest in me and my future and provided me with the resources and scholarship information needed to apply to college. Even then, the transition to college was academically and financially challenging and my career path was unclear. So, when I came across Nancy Hoffman’s article, 10 Equity Questions To Ask About Career and Technical Education, I reflected on the experiences that encouraged me to enter education policy work.

 

Hoffman raises great questions about the range and quality of programming, the opportunities and options that are (or are perceived to be) available, and how programs are being communicated to students and families. She notes that there is a history advising and placing students, especially low income and youth of color, into programs that do not prepare them to enter middle- or high-wage careers with clear advancement opportunities. This piece underscored the importance of making sure that all students are enrolling in and completing their career pathways (including work-based learning experiences) and transitioning to pursuit of a high-quality postsecondary degree or credential.

 

The questions posed in the article raised a host of other questions for me, including: How can we better support schools in talking to first-generation college students and their families to understand the range of career pathways and postsecondary options available to them? How can we make a seamless connection to the college access, scholarship and financial resources, and academic supports that will allow them to be successful both in their pathway and as they transition to postsecondary education?

 

This piece reminded me that career pathways can be a game-changing opportunity for every student if they have the information and tools to take full advantage of them. My parents, school counselor, and college advisor helped me overcome academic and financial challenges and helped me find direction and relevance in my own career path. Without that support, I know I would not have graduated from college. How can we support every student and their family, especially those who have been traditionally left behind, to have access to pathways, postsecondary, and career information that will allow them to take full advantage of the opportunities available to them?

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