Beyond grease

Hands-on education — integrating vocational and academic skills — will get a boost in California as the state school board approves new frameworks for what’s now called career technical education. The Sacramento Bee profiles an exemplary school that offers a Manufacturing Production Technology Academy.

Students learn a concept in geometry, then use it to build a project in shop. They learn a theory in physics, then build a device that proves it. They learn composition skills in English, then write business plans for the products they’re making.

The approach on this Elk Grove campus — blending vocational training and academic skills with an eye toward the 21st century job market — is one that education leaders would like to see at high schools across California.

Vocational-plus education is hard to do well. Some vocational programs go light on academics or teach low-demand skills. Education Trust West’s Russlynn Ali tells of a boy who got a floor-laying certificate without being able to identify a right angle and a girl whose school offered nine cosmetology classes but only one chemistry class.

About Joanne


  1. Sounds something like progressive education to me, at least the way John Dewey intended it, anyway.