CCR: College and Career Readiness or Creedence Clearwater Rebirth?

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Some people are born with a silver spoon in their hand

Lord, don’t they help each other

I see the bad moon rise

I see trouble on the way

– Splashback Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival, a band named after a beer commercial, was led by John Fogerty, a noted and demanding musician whose perfectionism drove the rest of the band crazy. CCR headlined Woodstock, but you wouldn’t know if it was from the record or the film; Fogerty did not give permission to include CCR’s performance because he felt it was below average. It wasn’t his fault, Fogerty claimed, but rather the previous act the Grateful Dead had “put the audience to sleep.”

Fogerty was not always a perfectionist, but took over in 1968 because he “didn’t want to go back to working at the car wash”. So “now we had to make the best album possible and it didn’t matter who was doing what.” So he decided to do it all.

This is not the kind of leadership that lasts and the CCR imploded four years later. This is the kind of behavior one would expect from someone determined to escape child poverty. And from the words of Fogerty (Born on the bayou – “Running through the backcountry bay / I can still hear my old hunting dog barking”; green river – “Stop at the log where the catfish bite / Walk along the river road at night / Barefoot girls dance in the moonlight”; mary proud “Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis / Pumped a lot of windows in New Orleans”), it sure sounds like he grew up poor in the South. In fact, he grew up in a cute Bay Area home with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Fogerty tries to explain: “Maybe I identified with [the South] more than kids who actually grew up in the South. I took note of [it] because [it was] so foreign to where I grew up.

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I have two reactions to this: (1) Huh?; (2) How fitting for one of the ancestors of American roots music. The American dream has always been about mobility. So why can’t a middle-class kid from Berkeley claim to have grown up poor in the South?

American mobility is becoming more and more fake. In the 1950s, 20% of Americans moved every year. Today it is less than 10%. Interstate moves declined further, especially for young adults. While it may be higher now for remote workers, those who cannot work remotely are stuck for the foreseeable future. And that’s a huge problem in an economy where all the growth over the past decade has occurred in just 1/3 of US counties.

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Although the Supreme Court has given tens of millions of women a good reason to move and hundreds of large companies now cover travel costs for employees requiring reproductive health care, this is not the kind of mobility that everyone wants.

Opportunities in America have increasingly been driven by wealth. Now, the same can be true of geography. If you happen to be born in a wealthy family or in the right state and county, you will probably be fine. If neither is true, you probably won’t. The Supreme Court decision simply reifies what our education system has been doing for two generations. America is no longer a country where a majority or even a significant number of people born less fortunate can change things in a generation. Birth is increasingly irrelevant fate, choice or talent – the opposite of the American Dream.

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While Republicans may experience dog grabbing syndrome, in the meantime – and it will likely be a very long interim – we desperately need new ideas to resurrect mobility – economic, of course, but also geographical. We need to make it much easier for young adults from all walks of life to earn a living and choose where they want to live.

Secondary schools try to answer this call by ensuring that every graduate is “college or career ready”. Almost all states require school districts to report on a range of college and career readiness (CCR) measures. However, many CCR standards are extremely vague or indistinguishable from high school completion. California says college or career ready by dint of taking 15 high school courses (in history, English, math, science, foreign language, arts, electives, that is, pretty much any what) with a grade of C or better. CCR’s John Fogerty would say it doesn’t meet the band’s standards.

Other states are much more focused on the first C of the CCR. Virginia defines the CCR as “the level of achievement that students must achieve to be academically prepared to succeed in entry-level college credit courses.” According to Iowa, these are “the knowledge and skills a student needs to enroll in and successfully complete first-year courses for credit at a post-secondary institution without the need for remedial”. And nearly all states rely on state tests, the ACT or SAT and NAEP — assessments that focus on cognitive skills and academic work — to measure CCR. Even Massachusetts — where the CCR standard actually has a work ethic and professionalism component — doesn’t have a better idea than the SAT, NAEP, and state report card (graduation rate, college enrollment) .

It is much more difficult for educators to assess career readiness. Teachers have an idea of ​​what being ready for college means in terms of knowledge, skills and abilities. But ready for a career? States are trying to address this by requiring districts to adopt CCR platforms like Naviance. Students who complete each stage assigned by the guidance counselor on Naviance are considered CCR ready, whether they are truly prepared or have received meaningful guidance. This easy-to-measure tick box approach is where the vast majority of states landed on the CCR.

As far as the boxes ticked on Naviance, it’s pretty much a theater of career exploration and planning (“explore careers through videos”) before students are forced to make academic research and applications. It would be nice if the college did the work. But when families with incomes above $100K represent more than half of the diplomas issued to students of traditional age and 50% of 24-year-olds with family incomes above $90K obtain diplomas when it is less than 6% for families with incomes < $35K, there is a bad mobility moon rising.

Just as the group members in CCR were not equal, the two C’s in CCR are no longer equal. In 2022, the college affordability and employability calculus does not offer the same mobility as career readiness. The same is true for geographical mobility. Dropping out and moving to a new state or city is tough. But the hardest part is knowing how you are going to support yourself. Because Pell Grants ($6,495) don’t cover rent, food, and transportation, moving for college is much less likely than moving after getting a job. That’s why the vast majority of young Americans who weren’t born into privilege stay home for college.

And that’s why states like Mississippi and Virginia have moved from CCR platforms that put college first to new platforms that reverse the Cs. MajorClarity is the first CCR platform that gives the career priority, assesses interests and abilities, provides match scores for each career path, then subjects students to interactive “career tests”. And while post-secondary education is the best next step, college degrees and faster, cheaper pathways are touted as equally valid options.

In addition to a more balanced approach to the CCR, learning is the other key to restarting economic and geographical mobility. As I said, apprenticeships are first and foremost jobs. And a job-focused approach is the best way to move someone, say, from the Bayou to the Golden Gate Bridge. Give them a job so they know they can support themselves. Then train them on what they need to know and do to be productive.

We were once a nation of apprentices. George Washington apprenticed as a land surveyor, Benjamin Franklin as a printer, Paul Revere as a goldsmith, and John Adams and Thomas Jefferson apprenticed as lawyers. But as John Fogerty’s other baby boomers reached college age, we swallowed the college-for-all pill, which worked for a time and led to the current unbalanced approach of CCR . And now, 60% of underprivileged children continue to struggle into adulthood. So, as Brookings acknowledges, “clearly the dream is in dire need of repair.”

It is difficult to acknowledge that universal university has led to our mobility problems. This is counterintuitive, because in most formulations, citizen renewal begins and ends with something like a liberal arts education. How can something so good be so problematic? Hence the democratic political priorities of free college and permanent moratorium/forgiveness on student loans. Most Democrats will wince at this New York Times Pitchbot Tweeter“Liberals may not be happy with the decision to overthrow Roe, but they should at least rejoice that the justices who overturned have such stellar intellectual credentials.” But if they’re honest, they’ll recognize the point of the satire: they prioritized degrees (and the process that leads to formal degrees) over outcomes.

Imagine a nation with apprenticeship programs in all sectors of the economy. Imagine a country with as many large-scale apprenticeship programs as there are colleges and universities. Imagine a nation where learning is as widespread and respected as college, where high schools think as much about learning readiness as college, and where all CCR platforms are like MajorClarity, putting the university and learning on an equal footing. Given that the typical American these days “isn’t a lucky son,” it’s no exaggeration to say that this could renew the American dream.

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