A Story of My Pride and Prejudice for our Sector!
My good friend Jean Norris asked some of us to respond to a question of what schools need to do to continue in the future. If any of us had a magic wand we could just point to your school and make it happen. I am well aware it is not easy to be a leader in school operations. There are so many facets that provide a well-run school. The importance of an education and how we provide it changes lives forever. It is truly a people business from early age in life through adulthood. As good as we are with dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s we must never forget that all ages don’t care what you know until they know that you care! I have had the fortune to work with and visit hundreds of schools and colleges. The one outstanding characteristic of great schools were their passion of providing great outcomes with an immense amount of caring.
During my fifty-three years in schools I have watched for thirty years the career schools with history dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. I came from a nonprofit sector that viewed career schools with a weary eye. But low and behold in 1990 my dear God lead me to the doorsteps of a small business college in Lincoln, Nebraska. I had no idea of what I was about to experience as their College Director with leadership that expected from me of intentions of running a college with love, caring, ethics, quality and equality. It was so easy to be full of pride to be part of a school that had been serving students since the 1800’s. To my surprise there were some who didn’t appreciate small career schools who were not citizens or members of the community they served. As the days and years progressed the outside persecution of career schools continued. Political status climber resorted to compliance political dogmas which were focused on destruction. These political regulations I surmised with optimism would be steps of authenticating schools and colleges would be implemented equally. But there was no intention of being regulations being equally prescribed. A nation that grew with expectations of competition and outcomes now was punishing those that were focused on student success, student retention, employment and many who were less fortunate to be able to attend a large college or university.
Thirty years later career schools are still scrambling to survive the onslaught of thirty years of continued generalized allegations and special interest. These politicians became the squeaky wheel portraying themselves as the savior. These enemies of the career school’s lead the way to have successfully put our beloved U.S. into a state of a lack of skilled workers in HVAC, Plumbing, Electricians, carpentry and technology entry level workers. Needless to say, it has been frustrating to see great teachers and students who have made the decision to change their lives for the better have been limited to their choices by sensationalism with skewing the facts with inconsistent facts.
First, I would like to applaud those that have survived the onslaught of hatred and rhetoric of unkind words. It is an honor to be in the same arena with such dedicated people. I empathize with those that could not hold on to the successes they provided to communities and students. The American citizens are not duped forever. A free society with capitalism strength, understands the formula of supply and demand. Career schools were an outgrowth of business understanding there was a need for schools who could prepare students for entry level jobs with skills that could be built upon in the future. Businesses themselves not only encouraged career schools they started them. When this country has a need, and no one steps up to fulfil the need someone will! Career schools have a proud history that emulates the American way. Like anything in history, you can find the good, the bad, and ugly but history will show on the good side the contribution of business and career schools created the recipe that engaged veterans after world wars and opened doors to those who had not even considered post-secondary schools.
When entering the career school sector after twenty years of public schools, it was impressive to see how often and quickly the career school leadership would make changes to improve student outcomes and employer service when the conditions commanded it. Career school’s future must be supported and endorsed for the improvement of the education freedom of our communities. Career schools continue to stay on course. They have not swayed from their purpose or mission. The only adjustments in the services to students has been the understanding of learning theory, which gives ground to delivery methods using new technology and understanding the changes in the diversity of learning styles confronting each teacher and student. Career schools have always celebrated their ability to be student centered over teacher centered. Changes in approach are needed to serve the student customer generation they belong too. Each school should make all aspects of their school user friendly with students, employers, teachers, and community.
There are many aspects that need attention in the near future for Career schools. To bring down the curtains each school owes it to their community to share their story and the value added their institution provides. This means we need to share the excellence from admissions, financial aid, education and career services with the linkages of what the value added provides. The school of the past cannot look the same in the future. Those who adapt to their customers will find support and success from their community.