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Putting high school students on career paths

published 1/28/2009
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Members of a House division debated whether high school students should be required to develop a plan for their future careers as early as the ninth grade.

The idea, part of a set of policy recommendations developed by the Governor's Workforce Development Council, was debated at a meeting of the House Bioscience and Workforce Development Policy and Oversight Division. No action was taken. (Watch the meeting.)

Executive Director Brenda Norman presented the recommendation that every Minnesota student, from ninth grade on, should have an annually reviewed plan to guide them down an educational and occupational path of their own choosing.

Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-St. Cloud) criticized the recommendation, comparing it to a European-style system in which students are forced from a very young age to pursue a predetermined career path.

"I get awfully concerned when we're talking about mandating things on ninth-graders and graduates in high school," Gottwalt said. "The fact that we might require them to start building a career path too early or too arbitrarily is a bit of a concern."

Rep. Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin), a college counselor, disagreed, arguing that students need to start preparing themselves for careers as early as possible.

"Ninth grade, to me, is almost too late to be thinking about where they want to be going," she said.

- Nick Busse


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