Students Need Life Skills AND College Prep Education
Posted by Sandra Lyon, Ed.D on 5/18/2018
The Palm Springs Unified School District recently conducted a special survey to help the Board of Education garner some current information as they prepare to update the district’s current Vision and Mission statements. In the survey we asked two open-ended questions: “What are some things we could do to continue to improve how our schools meet the needs of our students?” and “What qualities and abilities are most important for our graduates to be successful in life, business and he community?” From those two questions, there was a “thought exchange,” in which survey participants (including parents, staff members and students) gave their insights and opinions on a variety of themes including academic programs, student support, quality and attributes, classroom and learning, leadership and staffing, facilities and resources and school environment. The actual results of our survey will be posted here on our website (psusd.us) within the next few weeks.
What was extremely interesting was an identified desire for more skills development and yet little input regarding preparation for education and training students will need access to after high school. When we looked closer at what that meant to our responders, many cited the need for our students to garner life and financial literacy skills, communication skills, critical thinking and problem solving, character development, a strong work ethic and perseverance. Less of a concern was technology, science and math; and very few responses focused on college preparation for our students.
We agree that teaching our students life skills including financial literacy, communication skills, critical thinking, character development and vocational and trades training are important, and we will examine how we approach these topics currently and determine where there may be opportunities to better give our students these kinds of educational experiences. At the same time, we are striving to prepare all of our students for college or some other post-high school education as good wage jobs require more education not less. The headline of an article in the current issue of Vision: Greater Palm Springs says it all, “The Rise of the Knowledge Economy: High-Skill Jobs of the Future Put a Premium on Higher Ed and Innovation.”
We don’t think it’s a forced choice between skills needed to be successful in life and those that better prepare our students to navigate an increasingly complex world and pursue some form of education after high school, and we hope to impress upon our students and families that there is a “both/and” here. We, as PSUSD educators, are about teaching “both” life skills acquisition “and” rigorous academic, college preparatory courses so that every one of our students is prepared to attend college if they so choose and/or for whatever career track they determine is right for them.
We will explore this topic further in the coming months both here in this blog and in other communication pieces with our families. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts or feedback on this topic, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, as always, for your support and partnership as we do all we can to serve the students of the Palm Springs Unified School District.