05/01/2008

Career Education: History and Future

Book Review by Julia Panke Makela

Career Education: History and Future by Kenneth B. Hoyt, 200 pages, 2005, National Career Development Association.

Within Career Education: History and Future, Kenneth B. Hoyt shares his extensive knowledge derived from over five decades of professional efforts to improve connections between education and work. His ten years of experience serving as the Director of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career Education takes center stage in a personal, reflective exploration of the Career Education Movement that began during the 1970s and, in many ways, is still alive today. While much of the discussion depicts a journey of highs and lows in the political arena, Hoyt chooses not to primarily focus on the federal legislation as written. Rather, he shares an insider's recollections of courageous, creative, and persistent leaders whose influence and dedication have shaped this dynamic movement. Within this book, career development practitioners and scholars can uncover a unique, behind-the-scenes understanding of the people and efforts central to the Career Education Movement -- it offers a glimpse into personalities and contributions that other historical accounts lack.

Hoyt begins this book with a description of the groundwork laid by early leaders that set the stage for federal legislation related to career education. A variety of public laws are introduced, with an outline of funding appropriations (versus actual funding authorizations) and a brief description of the "sunset" appropriation plans that were intended to encourage states to assume increasing financial responsibility once programs had been developed and tested. Memorable descriptions of ironies in the policy development process are included throughout the first chapter. Hoyt then describes a process for building a national understanding of how career education should be defined (chapter 2), conceptualized (chapter 3), and evaluated (chapter 4). These chapters portray an expanded meaning of career education, bringing in elements such as an inclusion of all students (K-adult), an emphasis on both paid and unpaid work, an infusion of career development into the teaching/learning process, and a call for stronger relationships between education and economy. The Career Education Movement is described as a two-fold effort: an educational reform movement and an effort to relate education and work. An overview of several evaluation studies is provided to delineate positive results of career education demonstration programs. The next set of chapters describes successful state programs that have outlasted the repeal of federal legislation due to the tireless efforts of local champions. Florida's Miami Dade County Public Schools (chapter 5), Missouri's St. Louis Public Schools (chapter 6), and Ohio's Career Development Program (chapter 6) are all spotlighted by contributing authors who played central roles in administering these state programs. The final chapters look toward the future of career education, recognizing past accomplishments and providing specific recommendations for various stakeholders such as K-12 educators, postsecondary educators, parents and families, business partners, and counselors.

Despite the strengths and unique insights offered by this book, a few limitations emerge upon reflection. The first relates to the number of remaining questions regarding the surge and wane of federal legislative support for career education through the 1970s and 1980s. Readers may be left wondering how such a large discrepancy emerged between federal authorizations and federal appropriations for career education. What additional historical or cultural contexts might help readers understand why the funding gaps existed and what were the reasons for repealing the legislation? How, and with whom, was evidence of career education success shared? If the evidence of success was so strong, how could the programs and funding be discontinued on the federal level? Additional discussion of the circumstances surrounding the decision to phase out the Office of Career Education could provide useful insights for the future advocacy endeavors of career development practitioners and scholars.

A second compelling limitation relates to the perpetually moving target of state policies. A recent conversation with Dennis Moore, Consultant for the Ohio Department of Education, revealed that, just two years after this book's publication, much of the chapter regarding Ohio's Career Development Program is no longer accurate, partially due to considerable changes in state policy and funding (personal communication, July 9, 2007). On the one hand, Hoyt's book cannot (and should not) be faulted for such informational inaccuracies, as it provides a picture of programs at one point in time. Yet, readers are advised to remain cognizant of the constantly evolving nature of these programs.

Despite these limitations, the potential audiences who could benefit from this book are quite broad. Career development professionals-in-training will find plenty of material for stimulating discussions about the past and future of our field. Those involved in administration and policy development will find inspirational ideas and tools for furthering conversations. Current career development practitioners will find resources to develop a deeper understanding of the evolving consensus of how our field is defined and conceptualized.

Career Education: History and Future provides a particularly useful introduction to the policy arena in preparation for the 2008 National Career Development Association Global Conference in Washington, D.C., which offers the theme of Public Policy & Advocacy: Finding our Voice and Making it Heard. Hoyt leaves readers with the simple, yet powerful, statement that "career education works." He both inspires and challenges today's career development practitioners to build upon the efforts of the past, to advocate based on our present successes, and to provide the leadership needed to advance future career education opportunities for all.

Julia Panke Makela is a Nationally Certified Counselor who completed her M.S. in Counseling and Human Systems at The Florida State University. Currently, she is a Career Consultant at The Career Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is also working toward a Ph.D. degree in Higher Education. Julia may be reached at: jpmakela@uiuc.edu

Kenneth Hoyt's Career Education: History and Future is available for purchase in NCDA's online Career Resource Store .


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