Not Your Father's Vocational Schools

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A recent report from the Center for an Urban Future argues that today's career and technical education (CTE) high schools fill an vital niche in New York's education system. The report's author, David Jason Fischer and John Widlund, principal of George Westinghouse High School in Brooklyn, talk about the schools.


David Jason Fischer and John Widlund

Comments [13]

Richard from Manhatten

I'm from Switzerland and there most of the people don't go to high school but do an apprenticeship, which is normally 2 days of Vocational School (alternatively 1 day vocational school and one day of professional high school) and 3 days of work. I did that myself and then moved on to an engineering University (a thing you can do when having visited the professional high school) and I'm now doing my Master degree at Columbia. I always felt that a system like this offers a lot of advantages, especially since there are openings for the less capable students and it still offers a lot of opportunities for the better ones.

Jun. 03 2008 11:10 AM
Nataline Vanderburg from Harlem New York

Certainly once upon a time vocational schools broke down along ethnic lines and minorities were not considered college bound, (hence the creation of the college bound program) however the vocations minority were channeled to were not high pay, longevity, union jobs, those went to families already in the industry so you had electricians and plumbers and carpenters running from generation to generation, often when the test were given only those already in the industry knew and brought their children/families in - only recently have many of the industries been forced to open up. Having said all that I went to school in NYC back when we had to take both academic and vocational courses and everyone received a regent diploma or if you were not up to passing the regent exam rather than flunk you out you were encouraged to get a vocational diploma but you had had a good number of academics so if later you choose to pursue college you were ready.

Jun. 03 2008 11:10 AM
kucas from manhattan

Gload to hear it was Westinghouse HS not any stupid name like Tom Eddyson who got it wrong in his battle with Tesla over AC versus DC current!

Westinghouse sided with the great genius Tesla

Jun. 03 2008 11:03 AM
Paul Beeken from Westchester County

As a physics teacher I often struggle with students who cannot master some of the basic concepts in the curriculum I teach simply because they lack the technical experience I had as a child. Vocational training was the best preparation I ever had toward many of the higher academic goals I ever accomplished. I have a Ph.D. in chemical physics and most of the skills I retain are an ability to use machine tools, electrical and plumbing work. Regardless of where the student winds up at least they come out of school with skills they can use.

Jun. 03 2008 10:58 AM

I believe much of the stigma began in middle school when the girls were sent to "home ec" and the boys to "shop."

Jun. 03 2008 10:57 AM

Sorry but vocational vs. office very well could be some sort of intelligence test:

It is rare for me to meet a workman that is not sharp and experienced -- the reverse is true with the distracted and often half asleep office workers I come across professionally and personally.

A few accidents in the city and it hits the front pages of the newspapers. Look how incompetent businesses have to perform to get there.

Jun. 03 2008 10:57 AM
Dan Majkut

That was the best call I've ever heard...

Jun. 03 2008 10:56 AM

It seems as though vocational schools are stigmatized, particularly in terms of the types of students who go to vocational schools versus colleges or university. How do you recommend that we change people's view of vocational schools?

Jun. 03 2008 10:55 AM
Steve from Brooklyn

How can apprenticeships fit into vocational training? Maybe students who don't do well in the classroom might do better with a mentor who teaches them a skill.

Jun. 03 2008 10:55 AM
isaac from Uptown Manhattan

I cannot say how much I agree with Brian's comment that students are losing the ability to work with their hands because of the focus on liberal education. I was just speaking with my sister-in-law, who is an educator, about a friend of hers who teaches automotive repair at Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn. I went to a fancy prep school in Westchester and was very well-prepared for the Ivy League college that I attended, but my reflex is to call someone for anything beyond changing a light bulb.

Jun. 03 2008 10:54 AM
Jack from Tivoli

Vocational actually schools break down class stratification, giving non-college bound students the tools to make a living and provide for themselves, and giving students bound for wealth the ability to change their own lightbulbs.

Our society is unable to send all students to college, and not all students want to go in the first place. So why are we so adverse to skill training?

Jun. 03 2008 10:51 AM
Jack from Brooklyn

This is sometihng that really is needed. With the BLS projecting that only 30% of jobs will requier a college education, and I still can't find a plumber or handyman

Jun. 03 2008 10:48 AM
Justin from Brooklyn

I have friends and a brother who had a lot of trouble with high school and later with college, if they went. I am 25 and went to Architecture school, but think it is too bad that today we force so many people to go to university and even high school when they could get a very good experience much younger instead of them failing along because they dont fit the mold.

Jun. 03 2008 10:48 AM

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