Proposed pathways restrictive, ineffective
March 5, 2021
Omaha Public Schools has made drastic changes to high school academics for the 2021-22 school year. After the district came together to create new plans for high school development, the final product is the installation of academies and pathways into existing Omaha high schools.
An academy is defined by OPS as a “smaller learning community with a career focus. Groups of students with a similar career interest take classes together. Career-focused classes proceed from one to the next in a series.”
Pathways are defined as a “series of four or more classes focused on a group of related careers, or cluster. Students in a pathway take classes with a wide range of other students across career interests.”
Additionally, freshmen at each high school will be required to take Freshman Academy, a class that explores future career paths and skills beyond high school.
At the end of the course, students will be required to select one academy or pathway at their respective high school, which they will stick with throughout their four years of schooling. Each pathway and academy includes required electives students must take each year of high school.
This new plan will seemingly do more harm than good. Freshmen are fresh out of middle school, as the name suggests. The first year of high school should be spent collecting bearings and adjusting to new surroundings.
High school is quite a contrast to elementary learning, and it is difficult to figure out locker combos, paths to classes, and which extracurriculars to try. With this whole new set of requirements freshman are expected to meet, it is certain that stress levels will be rising for high school newbies.
Additionally, it is an unrealistic expectation that students will know which career path to follow after a single year of Freshman Academy. Plenty of seniors enter college undecided about their future, and it is expected that many will change their major throughout college.
To pressure freshmen to pick a career path too early will give them unrealistic expectations of what the future holds. They may feel forced to stick with their chosen pathway through college even though they do not enjoy the content anymore and may end up in an unfulfilling job and an unfulfilling life.
The other issue lies in the fact that each high school will offer different academies and pathways. Central’s pathways fall under art, leadership, and International Baccalaureate. This includes band, orchestra, choir, journalism, and JROTC, among others.
If students want to attend Central for non-career path reasons, such as location or family, and they do not find any of the offered pathways intriguing, they will not benefit from these new plans.
Only a select number of freshmen will truly benefit from the academies and pathways being installed into Omaha high schools. OPS is putting excessive efforts toward stressing freshman an unnecessary amount, and it will lead to a class of confused graduates heading down the wrong career path.