Why U.S. Schools Don’t Produce Adults

Annie Holmquist:

One of the hallmarks of modern America is the tendency toward prolonged childhood. While it used to be the norm to enter the adult working world by one’s mid-to-late teens, students now extend their preparation for career well into their twenties (and sometimes beyond), enabled by parents who act as their caretakers, education experts who insist that they get as much classroom education as possible, and a government that encourages them to stay on the family health plan until age 26.

Many Americans seem tired of this prolonged childhood and are longing for the days when young people were ready and willing to provide for themselves by the time they finished high school. The question is, how can American young people break out of this mold?

One solution that seems to be simmering beneath the surface is the rising interest in allowing teens to work in various job settings for high school credit. As a recent article in The Hechinger Report explains, that option is one which is being expanded in Vermont high schools.

The interesting thing about Vermont’s work-based learning program is that the high school credit it offers isn’t just for fluff experiences like basket-weaving, nor are the job settings limited to those in traditional manufacturing trades. Instead, they provide math and science credits to students working with engineers, economics credits to those working in the financial sector, and English credits to those writing under the supervision of music critics: