In this week’s TIME is a story (you can read it here) about vocational education programs here in Arizona.
One is a voc ag program on the Navajo reservation; the other is in the East Valley, the East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT).
They’re used to illustrate the need for more of these options for high school students.
Which is absolutely true.
What happened over the last 15 years or so, with the laser focus on test scores was this: Spending focused on basic skills and college preparation.
Which is good but narrow-minded.
Not everyone’s a college student. Not everyone needs to attend college to be a success.
So what happened in schools across the nation was the slow death of vo tech programs at individual schools.
In their place, if there was a replacement, are the EVIT-sized programs, with cutting edge technology, private-public ties, and internships that lead to well-paying jobs.
Two problems with these otherwise great programs:
At least in EVIT’s case, they’re more selective than the TIME article indicates — a kid who gets one F at his home school (kids attend their home high school for half a day and attend EVIT for the other half) are dropped from the EVIT program.
EVIT is large but far from large enough to handle the kids who want to enroll in those programs. And the cost of the technology and equipment is prohibitive for most high schools. So capacity doesn’t meet demand.
How about public/private partnerships at individual schools? For example, maybe a consortium of electrical companies partner with Camelback High School and offer a magnet program for budding electricians.
Another high school could be a plumbing magnet school; another a Computer Aided Design school.
That way, we could have the EVIT’s of the world and still have smaller, more focused programs at individual high schools.
Azcvoices.com is a network of community bloggers created by The Arizona Republic, azcentral.com and 12 News to highlight diverse viewpoints. Members' opinions do not represent the views of Republic Media.
Bio: Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.