Voc ed vs. music, art, foreign language

Music and art teachers are complaining about a new California law that expands graduation requirements:  Students can take one career or technical education course in place of art, music or a foreign language, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Arts and foreign-language courses are twice as likely as vocational classes to be certified as college-prep courses, so students who choose career tech could be ineligible to go from high school directly to the University of California and California State University systems.

Some urban districts, such as Oakland Unified, San Jose Unified and East Side Union in San Jose, use UC’s college-prep curriculum as their graduation requirement.

The new law will lead to two tiers, of college-prepared and unprepared students, opponents say.

Proponents disagree. “We already have a two-track system,” said Eric Guerra of (Assemblyman Warren) Furutani’s staff. “It’s called college or nothing.” Students who aren’t on a college track leave school without useful skills, he said. California’s class of 2010 graduation rate is a dismal 74.4 percent. “There’s got to be a different way to deliver secondary education,” he said. “The status quo is not working.”

The law’s opponents seem to think that many students will prefer career tech to music, art or foreign language. If so, why force them to take  art or music to earn a diploma?

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  1. Am I reading this right? There are school districts who base their graduation requirements on entrance requirments for the Cal State system? (Well, they may be doing that in theory, but many students who have taken the required courses still have to be remediated in a big way . . .). Why would anyone think that it makes sense to require all students to take the courses to attend a 4-year college in order to graduate, when this can only push up the drop-out rate and/or tell students with other goals that their goals are of no importance to the school district they live in.

    Understood, the goal is to make sure that low-income students from low-performing school districts will know that their school supports them in the goal of college attendance. But there are other, better ways to achieve that goal than forcing all students to take a pre-Cal State curriculum.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    See “skills gap”.