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ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

CTE in the News: ''Why We Need Vocational Education,'' The Washington Post

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June 6, 2012

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CTE in the News: ''Why We Need Vocational Education,'' The Washington Post

By: Ashley

Mark Phillips, blogger for Edutopia, professor emeritus at San Francisco State University and an education columnist for the Marin Independent Journal, wrote an article titled “Why We Need Vocational Education” for the Washington Post’s “Answer Sheet” blog, criticizing the bias against vocational, or career and technical, education as “dysfunctional.” The article, which was posted on the Washington Post website today, argues that CTE should be “highly valued, well funded and effectively implemented” on both secondary and postsecondary levels.

Phillips references international examples in this article, such as Finland and Norway, where he has been involved with training CTE instructors, citing their strong educational systems, where 45 percent of students choose a technical track or pathway as opposed to an academic one after completing a basic education. He points to the undervaluation of blue-collar work by society, which places a high value on the professions and white-collar jobs, as to why many educators and parents steer youth away from CTE paths. Philips argues that students should be “trained in whatever skills their natural gifts and preferences lead tem to, rather than more or less condemning them to jobs they’ll find meaningless.” To do otherwise is detrimental for students and also detrimental to our economy, Phillips says. Phillips emphasizes the need to re-educate parents regarding the value and opportunity of the many skilled occupations that are currently and will continue to be in demand in our economy.  While Phillips feels that “changing societal values will take time,” he notes that many changes have already been made across schools and districts that are providing models to guide other educators. He provides examples of these model schools, mentioning the CTE schools in Arizona that were included in a recent TIME magazine article written by Joe Klein and offering a few others, highlighting academic high schools that are building students’ connection to the workplace through internship programs.

 You can read the full article on the Answer Sheet at the Washington Post. 

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