In writing her article “An Avenue to High Academic Standards,” Lynn Olson confronts the tempestuous side of the education system: a recently added component of the curriculum. Olson claims that this new argument would further enhance the quality and practicality of the educational system. The school to works program was introduced in state and federal law in 1994 but its validity and utility is still being disputed over by various concerned parties.
Being the senior editor of the national newspaper “Education Week,” Olson would seem to be well qualified to provide her readers with a persuasive and realistic analysis to an issue that is being widely debated. Olson”s article gives one the impression that this scheme would be a highly beneficial one to our high school students. However, though Olson”s article deals with most of the issues relevant to this scheme, a few areas have not been covered by her. On the whole, it would seem that this scheme should be brought into vogue as soon as possible as suggested by her.
Olson has written a very sound article in which she persuades her reader through the means of sound logic well substantiated with real life examples to further strengthen her claims. She makes use of a simple and well-organized diction to enable her wide readership to understand the article. Also Olson”s sources seem to be well founded and used in a logical manner. Olson has written a convincing article because she substantiates her claims with real life examples of different school to work programs.
She embarks on this path by giving the examples of a young high school student and that student”s positive and enriching experience with the school to work program. In this particular case, Olson writes that the school to work program helps this rudderless student to find her vocation in life and thus make a valuable contribution to society. She further adds that this student”s experience is not an isolated one and that numerous students have benefited from this program Olson also writes “Studies suggest that school-to-work programs can help address one of the greatest problems in education: motivation”.
However, she writes that this program solves this problem and she substantiates this by giving the example of the 1994 evaluation of Pro-Tech, a Boston school- to work program. In this evaluation it was found that students who participated in these programs decided to take more rigorous math and physics courses than their peers. Thus, she proves that this scheme gives the students a clear indication about the direct link that exists between a good quality education and a good job.
Therefore, these examples in her article enable her to provide her readers with a logical and realistic argument that seems to make sense. However, by providing real life examples to prove her point, Olson is justified in writing that the school to work program provides a self-explanatory answer to the question “Why do I have to learn this? ” Olson further strengthens her case by elaborating some valid reasons that make this program a beneficial one to the students. Olson writes that the school-to-work program “engage students in active, hands-on-learning rather than teaching solely from textbooks”.
She states that the primary aim of this program is to inculcate theoretical knowledge with practical knowledge, thus enabling the student to practice the theory learned in school in daily life. However, Olson does admit that there is still a slight confusion on whether this scheme actually encourages students to pursue higher degrees after they have graduated from high school. She counterbalances this by stating that it does help students who intend to go to college on deciding which major they would want to pursue in college.
Furthermore, she also writes that these schemes provide students with the added incentive of acquiring extra credit hours. Olson also pads her argument by stating that this program provides society with an educated and skilled workforce urgently required by firms. The argument put forth by Phyllis Schlafly, in her article “School to Work will train, not Educate”, that these programs are the cause of economic requirements of society and are not due to educational upliftment is oversimplistic and lacks in logical coherency.
Schlafly may have some substance in her theme that these programs would “cause a person or animal to be efficient in the performance of tasks by responding to discipline, instruction and repeated practice”. However, her entire article uses negative emotion to pursuade her readers to follow her line of thinking. Furthermore, her argument that this program will deprive a child of a sound education is countermanded by Olson”s claim that this program will motivate students to get a better education.
Also George Willett”s statement in his e-mail message that “greater learning occurred where the practical was aligned with the academic”. However, one of the legitimate shortcomings of Olson”s article is that it does not provide her readers with all the information relevant to this topic. Her article has used only the positive sources that strengthen her case but overlooks all negative aspects that could have been assessed and resolved by her. Thus, as pointed out by Schlafly, one of the realistic drawbacks of the scheme is that it may be made a compulsory program with the students having no choice in the matter.
In that case, the system would lose all the advantages of encouraging students to learn and would just evolve into modern child slavery, where the student may be forced to work whether or not he or she may want to. Also, she has not looked into the fact that the students would not be able choose their own programs. It would be allotted to them based on their grades and other factors by an appointed body called “The Workforce Development Board”, which is a very disturbing thought, placing the very ideals of a democracy at risk.
This is one of the realistic fears put forth in Schlafly”s article. Also, as pointed out by Brian Faranell in his e-mail message that “asking a freshman in high school to declare his major is way to early”. This too is a legitimate fear that Schlafly has not confronted in her article. Therefore, it is recommended that the school to work program be an optional program wherein the only requirement is motivated students. Thus, no student should be forced to enroll in this program, as this would be counterproductive to the child”s welfare and make the very reason for its creation obsolete.
Also, there should be sufficient choice in the different types of school to work programs, so as to enable students to choose among the various programs, so that they might be able to choose something that corresponds to their courses and which will help them in the future. Presently, there are certain countries that have already inculcated this scheme to their education system. Thus, it would be judicious to study their system for a period of time before going head long into one of our own. This would help in looking at all the shortcomings in their system and avoid them in our own.
However, we must keep in mind that our basic society and education system may be different and that what works in those countries may not necessarily work in ours. It may also be a good idea to schedule a convention of teachers and professors and other educators to use their ideas. It should be always remembered that they are an integral part of the system, and the government should always take their opinion into account before enacting any bill. Thus, if all these shortfalls are removed the school to work program seems to be a viable addition to our educative system.
Olson has covered none of these areas, in her article, which leads one to believe that she may not have researched the topic well enough or else she may not want to provide any negative aspects to her argument. Though her not confronting these issues may show that these are really serious problems that have no real short term solutions. Hence, her argument might have actually been strengthened if she had confronted these areas and tried to provide some sort of solution to them. However, on the whole her article seems to be well written.
She has based her ideas on sound logic, which enables her to provide a coherent and well-organized thesis. She has well developed and organized her use of sources and has analyzed them well. Therefore, it would seem that her article would merit a good reception from the public. Therefore, it would seem that Olson succeeds in her purpose of providing a strong argument for the implementation of this program. However, as said earlier it would have been stronger if it had been comprehensive: tackling the harder issues as well.
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