Whatever is old is new again!
Long ago and far away we had a program for students who were not interested in going to college or whose talents were more in the trade areas than the academic ones. These students were taught in beautiful modern facilities by people who were experienced and licensed in the trade areas they taught. They did not have college degrees but did receive a short training program to add the skill of teaching to the trade skill. This program worked very well for many years providing excellent entry level skills to students ensuring that they would be able to earn a solid middle class living as people licensed in the area .
But along came standards and progress. In the mid-60’s, it was decided by people who had never worked a trade job in their lives, that the teachers should all have bachelor degrees. Within in months of these new teachers hitting the vocational areas, tools were put away, text books came out and there were written tests instead of practical ones.
Then in the interest of full democracy, it was decided that everyone like it or not, needed to go to college. So these programs gradually shriveled up with limited support.
Now we have the Kirwan Commission which is strongly advocating for a career technology program that would parallel the college preparatory program. My GOODNESS! It is a wonder no one thought of that before! Oh wait they have. But these new programs will have entry level exams. Supporters say the entry standards are necessary because the career path should not be mistaken for the shop classes of the past designed for students who struggled academically. So it is wrong to have alternative programs for kids who struggle academically? Instead these career programs are for “competent” students who want to graduate from high school with marketable skills but haven’t decided if they want to go to college or not. Can’t we just admit that there are human beings who are not academically talented but whose skills lie elsewhere?
Critics argue that these students will not make as much money as a college graduate over his/her lifetime. The situation is that only about 39% of people entering a 4-year college graduate in 6 years. What is the lifetime earning ability of a college drop-out who has limited saleable skills? Those kids who are plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, video editors, computer technicians and networkers and/or appliance repair people will be earning a good living. Probably a lot better than the 61% who dropped out of college. Sometimes the old ways of doing things were working just fine until they were fixed.