The full extent of what Joplin R-8 Administration plans to do with its career pathways will be unveiled tonight when the Board of Education meets at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building at 32nd and Duquesne.
The program sounded bad enough when it was first brought to the public's attention because of the idea that students would be steered into career pathways when they are in middle school, a time when hardly anyone is ready to determine a clear path for the future.
When Angie Besendorfer promoted career pathways, she talked about how students would have no problems if they elected to change their pathway and that seemed feasible. After all, college students change majors, many of them several times, but there are basic courses that everyone has to take. That makes it much easier to change majors as long as you have your core classes out of the way.
That concept is nothing like the cafeteria-style plan the Board of Education is expected to approve tonight.
Since I was an English teacher, allow me to use that area of study as an example.
Under the plan being submitted to the board, it is not a case of high school students taking English I, then English II, then perhaps moving into some more specialized classes during their junior and senior years.The curriculum experts (and I use the term loosely) at 32nd and Duquesne have decided to even gear the beginning English classes toward these career pathways.
The idea that there are basic literature and writing instruction that all high school students should have has been tossed aside. In the past, it has been a basic choice of whether students are placed in an advanced class at the freshman level or basic, now even English will be designed for these career pathways.
One class that will be offered is English 1 HS&B, which is described in this fashion:
Human Services/Business will cover all Missouri Learning Standards for 9th Grade English with literature and writing selections that appeal to students with interests in human services and business-related areas.
And then you have English I STEM:
STEM will cover all Missouri Learning Standards for 9th Grade English with literature and writing selections that appeal to students with interests in science, technology, engineering, and math related areas.
There will also be English classes for arts and communication students and for pre-AP (advanced placement)
Naturally, the same divisions are included in new classes for sophomores.
Also on the list of classes that will be submitted to the board are some fascinating electives in the English area:
Students can enroll in such courses as Fantasy in Literature, Literature of War, Literature Through Film, Mystery Literature, and Mythology and Folklore.
Some non-English classes on the list for tonight include the following:
Sports Math: Probability and Statistics, Repertory Musical Theatre Class, Introduction to Yoga and Pilates, and Reputation Management.
The list of classes is long and can be found at this link.
The most worrisome thing is that no fiscal note was provided for all of these new classes. In other words, taxpayers have no idea how much they will cost. One thing for certain, high school teachers are going to be asked to do far more work than they have ever had to do before. This long, long laundry list of classes has to be taught by someone and odds are you are going to have teachers who have to prepare four or five different lesson plans each day and most of them for classes that have not existed before and do not have any real curriculum guidelines at the moment.
Of course, that is no problem for the highly paid curriculum specialists who came up with the ideas. They are not the ones who have to teach the classes.