Career Paths: Moving Beyond the One-Size-Fits-All Mindset

Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow had an excellent article on placing greater emphasis on career and technical education instead of pushing every student to attend a four-year university. Here is my letter to the Editor of the Dallas Morning News which was published in Wednesday's edition:

Dear Editor,

As Chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, I endorse the sentiments expressed by Steve Blow in his column dated January 24, 2010 entitled “Vocational classes can keep kids in school, on career path.” It is a message I have conveyed to groups across the State of Texas since I became TWC Chairman in 2008. I couldn’t agree more that greater emphasis should be placed on career and technical education in our high schools and community colleges. We are fighting the mindset that all students should go to a four-year university. California State Senator Rodney Wright said it best when he pointed out that “the attempt to put every student . . . on the track to college has left too many standing at the station.”

We have to rid ourselves of this elitist notion that college graduates are somehow superior to skilled tradesmen, and recognize that we have different God-given talents. The key is to use those talents wisely rather than simply getting a college degree in order to get our career ticket punched. Particularly in these difficult economic times, the self-sufficiency acquired by learning a skilled trade becomes even more valuable.

Tom Pauken
Chairman, Texas Workforce Commission

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