Mack R. Hicks Ph.D.

Digital Pandemic

How We Can Help Fix Our Public Schools—Now

How to enact legislation to promote career education.

Posted May 23, 2017

Many students do poorly in school and the labor market, especially students from the lower socio-economic class. Poor kids are more likely to need help with self-control, which tends to be better developed in children who grow up with both parents in the home. It takes a coordinated effort to establish routines and teach frustration tolerance. Kids who don't develop self-control at an early age have difficulties with both academics and behavior as adults.

The next obstacle can be the school itself. Since the best public school teachers, equipment, and materials are often found in wealthy neighborhoods, it is highly probable that the assigned school for lower and mid-level kids is inferior. There are other educational options, but a single parent may not have the time or resources to provide them. Public school systems have magnet schools, fundamental schools, charter schools, and other options, but getting into these exceptional programs is sometimes daunting.

Another obstacle is the neighborhood itself. A high percentage of poor kids are also experiencing physical, nutritional, and emotional handicaps. The kids whose parents have the resources, gumption, or fortitude to get them enrolled in better schools and other city services tend to be creamed off, leaving a residue of frustrated kids in the disadvantaged peer group. Drugs are easily available on the street.

By eighth grade, many of these students don’t demonstrate the type of mental ability or motivation needed for advanced academic work, but well-meaning politicians and parents insist that all kids are the same and all should be capable of a Harvard education –– if just given the chance. Anyone opposing this stance is labeled a bigot or a racist. This is nonsense, of course, but non-academic kids are caught in this trap. They would prefer career education and eventual access to the job market, but instead are assaulted with abstract academic courses and mandated state achievement tests. All of this can lower self-esteem and is often damaging emotionally.

Unless the student is a high academic achiever and really wants an entirely academic school program, he or she should have exposure to a variety of modern and advanced career programs. This is the path to a decent job and career. If this allows for a way forward, it’s likely that these students and their children will move up and enjoy the benefits that come with a higher socio-economic environment.

All of this is discouraging, but as long as well-meaning school reformers and members of the upper class pick up most of the marbles for their college-bound kids, it won’t change. And let’s please remember, only 25% or so of the general population, not just students from the lower socio-economic class, have the basic mental ability, concentration levels, and motivation for college-level academics.

Here is proposed legislation that could begin to help our frustrated kids:

Mack Hicks
Source: Mack Hicks


By Senator (Insert name).


A State of (INSERT NAME) bill to be entitled CAREER PATHWAY TO SUCCESS.

WHEREAS, the majority of American students are not motivated for, or capable of, a full range of college prep academics, and

WHEREAS, fewer than 20% of all U.S. college students graduate from college in four years, and

WHEREAS, outstanding college loans amount to trillions of dollars, and

WHEREAS, college graduates with non-technical majors have low employment levels, and

WHEREAS, recent economic challenges nationwide highlight the critical need for job skills, and

WHEREAS, the pressure to succeed in academics and national and statewide academic tests results in school dropout, delinquency, unemployment, and classroom disruption,

WHEREAS, career students are not appreciated for their high mechanical and spatial intelligence,

NOW, THEREFORE, this legislation is to be enacted by the State of (INSERT NAME).

1.  Any students, regardless of race, social class, or family income, entering the eighth grade with 3rd through 7th grade teacher reports or test achievement scores placing them in the bottom 20% of that student’s countywide school population will be invited to participate in this CAREER PATHWAY TO SUCCESS.

2. Any students, regardless of race, social class, or family income, entering the eighth grade who have placed in the top 20% truancy rate over the previous two years will be invited to participate in CAREER PATHWAY TO SUCCESS.

3. Other students falling outside these criteria will also be accepted into this program with parental permission.

4 This enrollment is strictly voluntary. Students who wish to return to academic programs at a later time will be accommodated.

5. Students enrolled in the CAREER PATHWAY TO SUCCESS shall participate full-time in education and training leading to career certification and industry certification.

6. These students shall not participate in federal or state-wide achievement testing.

7. Successful completion of career education will result in a standard career education high school diploma (not special diploma).

8. These students shall learn citizenship within their career modules utilizing teacher-guided video lectures and hands-on experience, including basic personal finance, money management, US history, and work-place attitudes and behaviors. A passing grade from their instructor-teacher is needed to satisfy these requirements.

9. Upon program completion, regardless of age, students will have the option to attend l career training at a public school vocational training center, a career program at a community college, or a county career college.

10. School districts shall submit financial requests and have 4 years to re-allocate resources to fully implement THE CAREER PATHWAY TO SUCCESS program.

If you agree with the thrust of this legislation, please cut and paste this document and send it to your school board and state and federal representatives.