California is pushing all students into college-prep courses, ignoring kids who want to train for skilled trades. It’s bad policy, writes Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee.
With about a third of high school freshmen dropping out of school already, this inane obsession with college prep classes and academic tests, when coupled with the wholesale destruction of voc-ed, can only worsen that problem.
Meanwhile, however, auto repair shops, building contractors and other employers have thousands of jobs – high-paying jobs that cannot be outsourced to India — going begging. One auto dealer has been renting very expensive billboard space along Interstate 405 near Los Angeles International Airport to advertise for auto mechanics. California, meanwhile, creates 16,000 new construction jobs a year, many of which go unfilled.
. . . To suggest that some kids might, in fact, be better off as mechanics, carpenters, electricians or plumbers is to risk the wrath of parents, or even allegations of racist “tracking.”
Actually, many students would have to raise their academic skills to do real-world vocational ed. A high school auto shop teacher told me that he didn’t expect any of his students to go on to be auto mechanics, despite a good vocational program at a nearby community college. Some would go to college; the rest couldn’t read well enough to understand a manual, he said. The head of the building trades union said almost all would-be apprentices had to be sent to remedial classes to improve their math skills; most needed to improve their reading too.