Want your children to have a job after they finish school? Few parents would say no, but more than a few West Virginia parents are lining up to oppose a law they fear will begin slotting children into certain careers as early as elementary school.
The Jobs Through Education Act was passed in the 1996 session of the legislature, after eight public hearings were held simultaneously around the state. Its proponents, including State Schools Superintendent Henry Marockie, say it refocuses attention on basic skills through grade four. Its opponents say that its emphasis on "work-based earning" has sixth graders doing everything from helping clerks at the local Wal-Mart to emptying litter boxes at humane shelters.
State Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, says she fears that training children for specific occupations (instead of giving them a broad-based education) will leave them without jobs if industry's needs change. Furthermore, Boley says, the businesspeople she's talked to favor giving children the basics, plus some computer training, but don't want kids pre-trained.