Tom Pauken: A Plan to Re-emphasize The Skilled Trades in High School Should Pass Texas House

One of the trends weve been watching closely is the shift in attitudes when it comes to the "college for all" mentality that has dominated public policy in recent decades. Now, a plan in support of that shift is picking up steam at the Texas Legislature.

Workforce Commissioner Tom Pauken, who has been sounding the alarm about the need for more skilled workers, says the plan "is clearly going to pass the House. Theres a recognition in the importance of multiple pathways to a high school diploma and the value of career and technical education."

While Pauken believes the plan will pass the House of Representatives, there may be more of a fight in the Texas Senate. If it passes both houses and Governor Perry signs it, "Were going to be saving a lot of kids who would otherwise drop out of school," Pauken said.

"I think were going to reverse this idea that everybody should be oriented toward going to a four year university, which has become almost an obsession in Texas and a lot of other states."

Pauken and others behind this plan dont deny that college is an excellent option for many young people. But, when its the only option, "you end up losing a lot of kids who wind up in low wage jobs or dropping out of school and getting into gangs. If they were given an opportunity to get an industry certified credential as a welder, pipe fitter, electrician, construction worker - that would be a great chance for building a tremendous future for themselves and their families."

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