Not long ago, Secretary of Education Cardona tweeted a deeply offensive comment about schools preparing students to meet the needs of industry. I operate on the assumption that Secretary Cardona has a fairly low-level political appointee, maybe two years out of college, writing his tweet. Chances are he has never written any of his tweets. But they bear his name, so he has to be accountable for what they say.

Mercedes Schneider expresses the feelings that many educators had when they read his unfortunate tweets:

According to his 12/16/22 tweet, US ed sec Miguel Cardona wants education to be in line with the “demands” of corporate America:

“Every student should have access to an education that aligns with industry demands and evolves to meet the demands of tomorrow’s global workforce.”

But he also wants teachers to know that teaching isn’t a job (not a “demand”?) but “an extension of life’s purpose,” which may mean that if corporate America “demands” teachers, then that corporate demand is somehow lofty since it is the demand to teach. (Hard to tell, but a day did pass from one tweet to the next, so new day, new catchphrase?)

“Teaching isn’t a job you hold. It’s an extension of your life’s purpose.”

On Day Three of this alienation-via-slogan, we’re back to tying K12 education (and beyond) to the economy, happily-ever-after for the demanding job market but not so much for the objectified, mail-order bride that is apparently the American high school graduate:

Our work to transform our schools is crucial to creating a strong economic foundation for our country.

It’s time to break down the silos between K-12 systems and college, career, and industry preparation programs. This is how we transform education in this country.

So. If my goal as a teacher of high school seniors is to stuff my kids into projected industry slots, according to 2023 Louisiana Workforce Commission projections, the following jobs are expected to grow by 400 positions or more from 2021 to 2023, and therefore represent the chief industry “demands” of the Pelican State for my Class of 2023 grads:

  • JOB; # NEW POSITIONS; 2021 STATE MEDIAN HOURLY WAGE
  • Waiters and Waitresses, 3,028, $8.93/hr.
  • Food Preparation Workers, 2,855, $8.99/hr.
  • Fast Food and Counter Workers, 2,617, $9.28/hr.
  • Home Health and Personal Care Aides, 2,491, $9.04/hr.
  • Cooks, Restaurant, 2,182, $11.58/hr.
  • Cashiers, 2,023, $9.49/hr.
  • Retail Salespersons, 1,908, $11.33/hr.
  • First-line Suoervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers, 1,620, $20.61/hr.
  • Labor and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand, 1,567, $13.15/hr.
  • Registered Nurses, 1,234, $31.84/hr.
  • Stockers and Order Fillers, 1,207, $11.86/hr.
  • Heavy and Tractor Trailer Truck Drivers, 1,131, $20.40/hr.
  • General and Operations Managers, 1,119, $47.62/hr.
  • Nursing Assistants, 1,060, $11.28/hr.
  • Construction Laborers, 961, $16.60/hr.
  • Light Truck or Delivery Service Drivers, 888, $14.81/hr.
  • Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses, 860, $20.16/hr.
  • Bartenders, 763, $9.13/hr.
  • Carpenters, 677, $22.26/hr.
  • Lawyers, 664, $44.86/hr.
  • Driver/Sales Workers, 664, $15.00/hr.
  • Electricians, 644, $25.13/hr.
  • First-line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers, 629, $17.71/hr.
  • Sailors and Marine Oilers, 621, $21.48/hr.
  • First-line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers, 556, $30.59/hr.
  • Dishwashers, 551, $9.60/hr.
  • Cooks, Fast Food, 545, $14.98/hr.
  • Accountants and Auditors, 535, $29.87/hr.
  • Hosts and Hostesses, Restaurant, Lounge, and Coffee Shop, 523, $9.37/hr.
  • Medical Assistants, 469, $14.61/hr.
  • Paralegals and Legal Assistants, 453, $22.73/hr.
  • Receptionists and Information Clerks, 442, $12.78/hr.
  • Security Guards, 426, $15.42/hr.
  • Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters, 418, $27.56/hr.
  • Medical and Health Service Managers, 409, $45.58/hr.
  • Office Clerks, General, 409, $12.04/hr.
  • Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Except Scientific and Technical Products, 406, $27.72/hr.

Of the 37 most in-demand 2023 Louisiana jobs listed above, roughly one-third (12) do not exceed $12.00/hr. in median compensation. Moreover, only one-third (again 12) exceed $21.00/hr. (or roughly $42K/yr., assuming 40hrs./wk.) in median compensation.

According to the state’s own projections, it seems that Louisiana’s 2023 market demands the greatest increase in workers subsisting as the working poor.

As for teaching as an “extension of your life’s purpose”: not in Louisiana in 2023. Teaching is projected to hold steady, with those exiting roughly equal to those entering.

But forget the “life’s purpose” lofty verbage. Let’s just go for respect for human beings as human beings and drop the tweets about using people to plug holes in economic demands.