Monday, May 7, 2012

Learning That Works

Very good article in Time by Joe Klein on vocational education in High School.

I spent the better part of forty years plying a trade that I learned at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College aka "The College Of Motersickle Knowledge". I am a huge booster of vocational education.

The article described things I knew and things I didn't. Worth a read.

Vocational education used to be where you sent the dumb kids or the supposed misfits who weren't suited for classroom learning. [...]

C'est moi...

Unfortunately, the education establishment's response to the voc-ed problem only made things worse. Over time, it morphed into the theology that every child should go to college (a four-year liberal-arts college at that) and therefore every child should be required to pursue a college-prep course in high school. The results have been awful. High school dropout rates continue to be a national embarrassment. And most high school graduates are not prepared for the world of work. The unemployment rate for recent high school graduates who are not in school is a stratospheric 33%. The results for even those who go on to higher education are brutal: four-year colleges graduate only about 40% of the students who start them, and two-year community colleges graduate less than that, about 23%. "College for everyone has become a matter of political correctness," says Diane Ravitch, a professor of education at New York University. "But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than a quarter of new job openings will require a bachelor of arts degree. We're not training our students for the jobs that actually exist." Meanwhile, the U.S. has begun to run out of welders, glaziers and auto mechanics--the people who actually keep the place running.

The average of students at LATTC when I went there was about 26. The students were at the age when they realized it was gonna be a dead-end world for them if they didn't learn how to do something. It was their way up and out and they took it damned seriously.

Getting kids involved in real vo-tech, as opposed to busy-work for the dumb and delinquent like turning chair legs or fixing clunkers, while they're still in High School is a damn fine idea.


David Aquarius said...

I live across the street fm a vocational school, now called a 'technical college'. It's grown considerably since I moved to the area in 1983. It used to be where you learn auto repair and traffic flagging but it was much more.

Lots of folks would say that if you were turned down by the Univ. of WA you were destined for the VoTech. However, I saw more folks get great, well paying jobs fresh out of the VoTech than those who finish the university with honors.

Now, in addition to the standard trades, they offer culinary arts, conflict resolution and horticulture. The culinary arts program is rated one of the best in the NW and THE place for lunch in the neighborhood. The horticulture program has placed students in some of the most exclusive estates as landscape designers and engineers (as well as some of the most successful 'clandestine' nurseries!)

All in all, the technical colleges are, perhaps, the most valuable post-high school training one can get if you don't have a full ride scholarship or aren't real good at playing with your balls (ie: foot, base, or basket)

Fixer said...

I am a huge booster of vocational education.

Me too. In the car biz, there's a big difference between the kids who came in with only auto shop from high school and the ones who put in a couple years in a technical program at one of the local community colleges.