“Is the ministry's newest program a mistake?”
Claims of skill shortages periodically reappear as a rationale for focusing the schools on preparation for jobs over personal growth and developing active citizenship for a democracy.
An article in the BC Teacher from November 1980 could easily be reprinted in 2016 in covering the supposed need for skills training for the construction of non-existent Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) projects.
In late August, a Ministry of Education news release announced the "Career Education Program." ...It says the program will 'lead to satisfying jobs for students who might otherwise be untrained.'
...This approach is reflected in one 'draft' document from the ministry that says that, 'A primary purpose of our schools is assisting students to prepare for satisfying and successful employment.'
AMBIGUITIES, CONTRADICTIONS, PROBLEMS
*Most of the public documents describing the program have the label 'draft' and are being revised.
*Significant documents describing the curriculum development objectives and procedures had not even been released in 'draft' form by the time the ministry was seeking people to sit on curriculum committees.
*Details of the program seem to change frequently, but without announcement.
...False promises are being made to the public, parents and, most importantly, students. When the minister says the program will 'help alleviate the continual shortage of skilled tradesmen,' many will understandably jump to the conclusion that students will come out of the career preparation programs as skilled tradespersons. They won't, of course, and they may well feel cheated.
"Dual credit" between secondary and college for skilled trades courses has had a number of organizational forms since 1980, including the BC Liberal BC Jobs Plan of 2015.
The BC Teacher article of 1980 concluded with a statement that has come true too many times over the decades.
Once again teachers may be left to pick up the pieces of expectations shattered by the disparity between the promises of political announcements and the reality of a program that is philosophically misguided and operationally confused.