This post is a continuation of my last post “To PPS: Create an ‘International Marketing Career Track’” (here). I today (11/29/10) attended the second meeting of Portland Public Schools Blue Ribbon Task Force on career tracks at Benson High School. As the task force was dividing into five tables, each with a different group of career tracks, I was permitted to join one of the tables and to participate. My table had “Business and Management” as a topic. Everyone at the table was sharp, knowledgeable and friendly, and I was able to discuss my thoughts on creating an “International Marketing Career Track.”
My thoughts on the task force meeting follow:
(1) What they are doing is confusing. I think PPS/Mayor Adams would like to get five or six (a need to prioritize to the most important) career tracks of high interest to students, important for the economic growth of Portland, with future jobs expected for students, and doable in one or two high school elective courses with, perhaps, some on-the-job business experiences thrown in. Some coordination with community college and universities would also be a plus. But this is not how the task is described to the task force. I thought there was general ambiguity about the task, especially about how much high school time could be involved (from just one elective at one high school to tweaking a required course at all high schools).
(2) Take my “Business and Management” table as an example. I think participants at the table agreed that a course (or focus) on “entrepreneurship” would bring all of the important business skills together in a way that was attractive to students. I agreed. The summary back to the full group (see some of the photos above, click on photo to enlarge and read) even mentioned “international component” and “international experiences” (educational). That was good, but not good enough. My table participants did not seem ready to target “international” business or entrepreneurship as a priority. Yet, if one of the half-dozen career tracts selected does not involve a high school year abroad and a focus on selling more abroad, then Blue Ribbon Task Force will have overlooked its most important economic development priority.
(3) There were five tables at the task force meeting. Each had a separate economic sector, like health care, education, the arts and communication, industrial engineering and manufacturing, or business and management. I think these were products of the first task force meeting which I missed. It’s hard to get back to the general importance of the “international” component once one is into the specifics of these economic sectors. There is a growing-in-importance international dimension to each of the separate economic sectors.
(4) At the end, Superintendent Carole Smith spoke of making career tracks “exciting” and to “go deep.” I can’t think of anything more exciting or deeper for some students that a high school year abroad.