Doesn't have to be all or nothing...
Most American high schools phased out vocational education years ago, motivated by complaints that it was used as a tool to "track" African American and Latino students into low-paying careers.
But the idea of combining traditional academics with career training is making a comeback, and a poll released Wednesday suggests that it is popular among one particularly important group: struggling high school students.
The poll of California 9th- and 10th-graders, conducted for the James Irvine Foundation, found that six in 10 students didn't particularly like school and weren't motivated to succeed. But of those disaffected students, more than 90% said they would be more motivated if their school offered classes relevant to their future careers.
It's laudable to want to make everyone ready for a four-year college education. But the survey referenced in this article reminds us that not everyone wants that. We should be helping students explore, identify, and pursue the lives they want to lead, not dictate that they follow a path that holds no interest or value for them.