An Avenue to High Academic Standards By Lynn Olson In her article "An Avenue to High Academic Standards," Lynn Olson argues that "A prominent misconception surrounding school-to-work is that it downplays intellectual achievement," and that "school-to-work can encourage young people to pursue education and training beyond high school." A school-to-work program enables a student to go to a regular school and attend classes just like any other regular high school student, but they are also required to attend additional training in a "real world" work environment. School-to-work programs are achievable and attractive to students whose schools are participating and Lynn Olson does a good job of arguing her point. "High-quality school-to-work programs combine learning in school and in the workplace." This makes sense, without efficient entrusted employers who are willing to participate in the school-to-work program, the support of the school would be undermined and the system would most likely fail. The school-to-work program enables students to get hands on experience within the workplace while at the same time giving them a reprieve from their textbooks. Lynn Olson argues that there have been studies that suggest "school-to-work can help address one of the greatest problems in education: motivation." This makes sense and I believe this to be a very accurate and significant argument. Without motivation students will find it very difficult to get things started and to complete their tasks.

This not only happens with academics but in life general. Lynn Olson argues, "A majority of American teenagers in national surveys describe their education as "boring." I can attest to that. Both in high school, and in college I have had to learn about subjects that I can careless about and because of this the motivation factor was extremely low. "Although they think it's important to graduate, they don't think that doing well in school matters." I tend to agree with this. I believe that graduation is the key factor, and this is the reason why kids go to school. School-to-work programs can alleviate some of the boredom that studying out of textbooks can have.

"School-to-work can help young people answer the question, "Why do I have to learn this?" Lynn Olson claims that research from various corporations, and research companies argue that "school-to-work activities can slash boredom and re-engage students in schooling." Once again this makes sense. Give students the option to get out of the classroom and into the workforce as interns, gives them the opportunity to have a better understanding of the "real world" outside of the textbook and classroom environment. "A prominent misconception surrounding school-to-work is that is downplays intellectual achievement." Lynn Olson claims that connecting academics with a structured school-to-work program will benefit the student with the academic aspect of school; thus motivating the student to do well both with the textbook and in the work environment. Once again this makes complete sense. Intermixing the academic side of school along with the "real world" work environment would benefit everyone involved. "Evidence suggests that school-to-work can encourage students to take more academic coursework-not less." Lynn Olson states that a study was made showing students who participated with the school-to-work program had a tendency to enroll in "rigorous math and science courses" versus students who didn't participate with the school-to-work program.

Lynn Olson also supports this argument with another study performed in Portland Oregon, where one of the high schools had an increase of enrollment in math, physics, and chemistry since the implementation of the school-to-work program. This claim sounds good but I believe that further research needs to be done to better support this part of the argument. "Finally, school-to-work can encourage young people to pursue education and training beyond high school." From her studies, Lynn Olson has noticed a trend with students participating in the school-to-work program enrolling in post secondary education upon completion of high school based on their understanding with the connection between learning and good employment. Once again this is a positive sign for students participating in the school-to-work program. Lynn Olson states, "Many of these programs report college-going rates among their graduates of about 80%, compared with about 62% nationally." These are good arguments Lynn Olson presents, not only does she present them well, she also supports her claims with a solid foundation of studies on the material presented.

This would be encouraging for any parent who might want to enroll their child into a school-to-work program. What are some of the reasons why school districts participate in the school to work program? While studying about school-to-work programs Lynn Olson had to travel to many school districts participating in the school-to-work program. One reason is that teachers realized that their students were going into the workplace without proper training. Another reason is that employers have labor shortages within their community and look to the school for help; or that "high school graduates lacked the skills to succeed," and that the employers want them to learn these skills while in high school.

These are good reasons that Lynn Olson presents and they make sense. However one concern is "School-to-work needs to be done well, making sure the academics are rigorous." This is an important aspect to the school-to-work program. Without highly skilled jobs within the program, it is difficult to maintain rigorous academics. Lynn Olson argues that "improperly structured, school-to-work could offer low-level curricula and channel students in to narrow job training." I completely agree with this and would like to see what type of programs is offered to the different schools throughout America that is participating in the school-to-work program. Lynn Olson makes a good statement but doesn't support her argument effectively in regards to the types of programs offered.

Regardless of people who are either opposed are in favor of school-to-work programs, there will always be employers, parents, teachers, and community leaders who need young people out of high school to fill the job vacancies. Lynn Olson states: "Not every school-to-work program is right for every student." I believe this is a very good statement, in that everybody is different and one program will not fit everyone's needs.