Schools are rebuilding shop classes that were abandoned years ago. Not everyone wants to go to college, it turns out.
Around the country, high schools are being transformed into career academies or adding smaller vocational schools within their buildings. In Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley recently announced an initiative that will let high school students become qualified to work in particular industries. Students would then use their certificates to find high-skill, high-paying jobs.
In California, three-quarters of high school technology programs have folded since 1980. Most tech-ed teachers are near retirement or already retired.
The story blames the rise of standardized tests for the decline of shop, but the transition started decades ago with the elimination of tracking. The idea was that all students would take the same courses and go on to college.
I’ve got a vocational ed (“career technology”) meeting today in my temp editorial writer guise.
Update: In Santa Clara County, the Building Trade Council, contractors, East Side High School District, San Jose-Evergreen Community College District and some other players have formed a non-profit to encourage young people to consider careers in construction. As I understand it — and they weren’t very clear — the idea is to create programs within high schools that would teach regular academic subjects with an emphasis on applying skills (especially in math and science) to construction jobs; students also would get experience with carpentry and other trades. Some would qualify for apprenticeships when they leave high school; others might choose to go to college to study to become architects, engineers, project managers and the like. They seemed very reluctant to pitch the program as an alternative to college. Apparently, no program can be sold these days without a college component.
News you can use: Apprentices earn $16 to $21 an hour in this part of California, less than half of what they’ll learn as journeymen in as little as three years.