In the past, many jobs in the agriculture-dependent Yakima Valley have not required an education past high school, and access to further education for many students has been difficult. But that history is changing in the present — especially in the skills needed for jobs — and is likely to accelerate in the future. Students and the schools that educate them will need to change with these times.
A Yakima Herald-Republic story earlier this month spelled out the concerns held by many educators about the still-low numbers of students pursuing post-secondary education, especially in college. The reasons are familiar: high poverty rates in a low-wage economy with many seasonal jobs; transportation challenges in getting to classes — four-year access has improved in recent years but remains an issue; and the number of students from families without post-secondary education. Too many K-12 students in the Valley grow up believing that college is unattainable or unnecessary. Also, many teenagers have to work to support their family and feel they don’t have time for school.