Behind the Headline: Even Vocational High Schools Are Pushing Kids to Go to College

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Even Vocational High Schools Are Pushing Kids to Go to College
6/30/15 | Hechinger Report

Behind the Headline
College Prep for All?
Summer 2014 | Education Next

Gail Robinson visits two schools in New York City that are part of the rapidly changing world of career and technical education for an article in the Hechinger Report.

Construction Trades and Transit Tech are at the center of a transformation in what used to be called vocational education. Once viewed as an educational backwater or a dumping ground for poor students, it is now “career and technical education,” or CTE — aimed at giving all types of students the training they’ll need for technology-driven jobs and to meet employers’ needs for skilled workers. To succeed in these fields, proponents of CTE say, many, if not most, students will need to continue their educations after 12th grade.

The two schools Robinson visits face different challenges; the newer school, Construction Trades, was established to prepare students for college as well as for the workplace. The older school, Transit Tech, has had to revise its curriculum to keep up with changes in what we expect from vocational education.

“CTE is public education’s response to the economic fallout that accompanied the country’s loss of well-paying blue-collar work,”  Robinson explains. “Programs include old mainstays like carpentry and auto mechanics but now also biotechnology, health professions and computer networking.”  However, Robinson notes, “Educators often find the day is too short — and four years not enough time — to give students a solid academic grounding while training them for a possible career.”

In an Education Next forum published last summer, Robert Schwartz and Cynthia Brown debated whether all students should be taught a college prep curriculum. Cynthia Brown’s article is “All Students Need Common Foundational Skills.” Robert Schwartz’s article is “Multiple Pathways Can Better Serve Students.”

– Education Next

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