Friday, February 19, 2016

Support Voc Ed in your local public schools

If you're forced to pay school taxes, then you should have a voice in what programs are offered. My old high school started phasing out vocational programs in the mid-90s and was very proud of being named one of Texas' premier college prep schools. The problem was, in the following decade, they saw a rapid increase in drop-outs. They were shocked, SHOCKED, and immediately launched a committee to study the issue. One of my classmates, Gary Crabtree owner and master mechanic of Crabtree Automotive, was included as he was considered a successful businessman and graduate. Nothing was mentioned about the fact that he spends his time, under hoods and on creepers, covered in grease fixing the cars of bankers, doctors and lawyers. He was a "businessman".

In their first committee meeting, Gary brought up the issue that not all students were cut out for college, their interests and aptitudes were in the vocational arts which the school district decided to ax due to "budget" and "lack of interest". He pointed out that forcing a teenager who wanted to work on HVAC unit to study Shakespeare and calculus was like making a fish climb a tree because that's evolution.  Around 2009, vocational programs started making a comeback in the local schools. Programs were designed in partnership with local community college to offer dual enrollment for not only academic classes, but also vocational programs. Now you can graduate high school with most of the work done for a CNA, paramedic/EMT, plumber's apprentice, automotive, diesel, etc. Enrollment and matriculation is back up. Success is about more than GPAs and how many students get accepted to tier 1 colleges. It's about preparing ALL students for life, regardless of the path they choose.


Jason said...

They also need to bring back Home Economics. The idea that all girls should be groomed for STEM fields is idiotic. We're told all the time that men need to embrace their "feminine" sides, while encouraging young women to renounce *theirs*.

We need wives and mothers too.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of times I shake my head & say "I should have been an engineer", but in all honesty, I never would have made it. I DESPISE doing paperwork and knew it all those years ago when college was an option.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to support programs like that even though I have no kids but I've come to believe that public schools are as rotten, evil and dangerous for America's children as the govt. is for its citizens.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear. Very good points made. SOMEBODY has to get their hands dirty because stuff breaks down, regardless of what the state of the economy. And some of those jobs pay VERY WELL.

And when somebody is happy with that work, they will be happier then those who work white collar jobs and watch the clock, just waiting for a chance to get the hell oughta Dodge! Jobs are sometimes called 'Occupations', because they keep people occupied. May as well be done doing a task you like to do anyway.

HeroHog said...

I high school I took Auto Mechanics I and II, Small Engine repair and my only classes my senior year were PE and Welding. I had bought, repaired and used an old lawnmower to buy my 1st car, a 1964 Ford E100 Van that I also repaired, learned to drive and sold all before the age of 15. I worked as a mechanic after high school and joined the US Navy as a Diesel Mechanic (Diesel Engineman) and worked my way up to ASE Certified Master Mechanic thanks to my start in those "trade schools." Because of a service connected disability, the VA put me through college when I was in my 30's and I became a computer geek and eventually made Sr. Programmer/Analyst.

Lisa Lane said...

Great post, great comments...good morning!

J Bogan said...

They all need to remember, it is those of us that "DO" that keep civilization rolling along. Shuffling paper moves a lot of piles, but the folks that fix things keep the lights on, the planes flying, the AC cold, the cars running...And when TSHTF, I can trade MY abilities for food, or whatever....

Robert Fowler said...

I spent most of my time in the Marines as a mechanic and later driver. I spent most of the rest of my working life either working on things that moved or driving them. I was involved in a truck accident (I was run over by a truck) in the marines and was medically discharged. I worked a lot more years until a fall on some ice put me on the permanently disabled list. Now I deliver pizza part time and run a small gun shop.

My brother (younger) went to work for a heating and cooling company. He ended up owning his own company and now he is teaching his son the trade. He fell off a building a couple of years ago and is now in a wheelchair. He's still running his company with my nephew doing the hard work.

I was sent to a community college to a Ford program when I worked for a dealer. I took every class I could get and made it to Master Technician before my forced retirement.

Neither me or my brother went to a formal college and yet in our own ways, we were rather successful. Going to college is a myth perpetrated to take money from families to supposedly educate Junior. A lot of times, Junior really should find a good trade school or apprenticeship program.

Kentucky Packrat said...

I have killed two nursing careers on the vine. Little Miss decided she was going to be a nurse and a missionary. She started describing how she was going to be a nurse practitioner, and focus on mental health.She was going through art withdrawals trying to focus on the academics needed to head towards nursing, and was getting mean. I realized that I was raising Nurse Ratchet. I took her to the UK Iron Pour, and got her talking to the artists there (and our welding neighbor) about opportunities for jobs in the welding and metalworks community. She's now going for a masters in fine arts, and we're trying to survive Algebra 2 enough to get a 25 on the ACT.

One of her best friends is the alternate way. Her dad kept saying nursing, but she's an egghead who is definitely engineering-bent. Since this is more my direction (her dad's an accountant), I'm going to take them to the Engineering Day at UK next week. Her problem now is deciding WHICH engineering field to pick (I've pointed out that there's double majors and "undecided engineering"...).

drjim said...


We need plumbers, carpenters, electricians, and mechanics.

Not everybody is meant to go to college, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with going into "The Trades" as we used to call it.

I stuck it out and became an Engineer, but I'm one of the few who knows which end of a soldering iron to pick up.

I can't believe the lack of common sense, practical knowledge that young Engineers completely lack when they graduate!

J Bogan said...

I have been fixing Jags for a long time. I once had a junior GM steering engineer come over and watch (and talk) as I helped a guy out with his E type one Saturday...Holy cow, I knew GM was doomed then...

Livin to Ride said...

good post Angel..

drjim... I can't believe the lack of common sense, practical knowledge that young Engineers completely lack when they graduate!

now aint that the sad truth..

Angel eyes said...

I have two sons. One is a UC graduate who can't find a job and the other is a certified welder who names his price...

Country Boy said...

When I was in High School there were two paths. College and Trades. If your parents were rich, you were assigned to the College bound courses. Poor? Trades. Grades and aptitude really didn't matter. Desire was cause for laughter. Unless, of course, you parents were rich. My parents weren't among the elite. I was placed in trades courses despite testing in the top 10% of the class. My desire, told to a guidance counselor that made it clear her time was for the rich kids, listened impatiently and sent me back to class. I went to a factory job after my junior year, worked part time during my senior year, and managed to move to my preferred career after a couple of years of self education. I made it, but forcing me into a path I didn't want was more than a little disheartening. I feel that I snuck into my career through the cat door. My point? Having the courses won't help those who need them unless the schools recognize desire and ability. That's hard work and few public school administrators want to put in that much effort.

drjim said...

@Country Boy

I had the exact opposite experience when I was in high school.

My freshman year I went to the "counselor" to set up my schedule. One of the classes I was very excited about was General Shop, where you had 6 weeks of electric shop, 6 weeks of auto shop, 6 weeks of drafting, etc.

He told me I would NOT be getting shop class because "shop was for dummies, and you're going to college".

I was crushed, and told my Mom when I got home. She got this weird look in her eyes and said "Tell your father that when he gets home".

Dad was a Tool and Die Maker who had gone on to be a manufacturer's rep for companies like Bridgeport, Logan Lathe, and other large machine tool companies.

When he got home and I told him what had happened, he was furious and called the school to make an appointment to see the counselor. The school, told him to just come in, as the counselors were "always happy to talk to the parents".

I think my Dad must have ripped him a new one, as when I went to school the next morning, they pulled me out of homeroom to go see my counselor.

My new schedule had my shop class, which replaced two useless (to me) study hall periods, and my counselor was shaking when I walked in.

I don't know (and don't care) if he was mad at me, or scared of my Dad, but I never had any trouble at all getting the classes I wanted for the rest of my high school.

fjord said...

Our H.S. has a big Ag program and FFA program, plus Co-Op. The Co-op teacher just quit because he's sick and tired of having to check up on his students, who say they are going to work and really aren't. (Luckily we have a good co-op student working for us). He doesn't have time for his other programs and teaching because he's too busy babysitting.

The Ag program; welding, mechanics,greenhouse, aquaculture, livestock/forestry/farmland management are the only hands-on type classes (besides woodshop) that kids who aren't "bookish" get to attend. The Ag teachers are constantly having to have fundraisers and fight for their funding to keep their programs and classes going.

and even they push college on kids, as if you can't be a farmer without that Penn state college degree.

Jacob Fuerst said...

You know, some of us doctors like to weld and fix stuff too. I worked my way through school with a MIG welder in hand making cattle ranching equipment (squeeze chutes, cattle guards, gates, trailers, etc.).

Working with your hands isn't something that just working class people do.

hiswiserangel said...

Dr. Fuerst,
I'm glad you have those skills. The point of the post was that the VocEd option should not be taken away to push pure academia on students who don't have an interest in becoming a doctor, lawyer, executive. But I agree, VocEd should be an option for anyone who chooses to study it.


HeroHog said...

I always wanted to be a mechanic and worked toward that. While at school I tested at the top in reading and comprehension and was reading my mom's college assignment novels, "Flowers For Algernon" "Fahrenheit 451" "1984", and all but failing English. It frustrated my parents to no end! In my senior year my counselor kept telling me I needed to take another English class. I knew the requirements and only wanted to take Welding and PE which would allow me to graduate. She kept badgering me and each time I responded with "I HAVE to or you WANT me to?" She wouldn't reply but would repeat that I needed to take another English, Eventually she gave up and realised I had her over a barrel and I got my classes. I graduated high school because they were glad to see me go to be honest. In the classes that didn't interest me or that I couldn't see the use in life in, I simply didn't put forth the effort.

Fast forward to when my body is breaking down, the VA tests me to see what they can do for me. Surprise of surprises, I'm thinking another Trade School, they say "what college do you want to attend?" You could have knocked me over with a feather! "What can I take?" I ask. "Anything you want!" they reply. OK, now I AM on the floor! Me, the kid who got out of high school by the skin of his teeth is college material with an unlimited choice of majors? I go to Louisiana Tech hoping to become a Mechanical Engineer. I discover computers in my 1st quarter and get hooked. I do great in math up till Trig where rote memorization kills me. I pass, but just barely and don't know it well enough to survive calculus or physics. Would ya believe I wound up being a Technical Writing major and doing quite well in that area?

Here is the funny part, I dropped out of college when I had 90 credit hours as a Senior to take a job as a PC Tech and Net Admin. At the time I was also working at Tech as a Scientific Instrument Tech taking care of the labs and computers for the Civil and Chemical Engineering departments. I was maxed out in the pay there and the day I left, I doubled my pay.

I don't regret my trade school time or my mechanic days, in fact I miss it. I learned so much that applied later in life that you just don't learn anywhere else. Yes, college is great for some people and some things. It gave me an opportunity to be exposed to things that would come to shape my future and to introduce me to many lifelong friends. It opened doors that led to jobs but so did my trade schools and my military service. My red neck blue collar background white collar life ruffled some feathers but I was just fine with it.

Anonymous said...

I learned one helluva lot in my FFA/vo-ag courses in high school....and, I still wish to hell I'd been a plumber!

vaquero viejo

JeremyR said...

I took industrial arts which covered wood working, but passed on the Vo-Ag which had welding and mechanics. Didn't bother with typing, shorthand, or any of the college prep. Skipped foreign language as well.
My career has spanned four years of college to get my commission, and sixteen years as a repairman in a manufacturing plant that included tons of mechanical work, welding etc, but not one bit of wood working.
In my "free" time I was buying and restoring houses. that included electrical, plumbing, carpentry, masonry, and HVAC.
I have also built, programmed and repaired computers and associated equipment back when it was MFM and RLL drives, 5.25 floppies and amber monitors.
Still deciding what I wanna do if I grow up.
And to top it off, I married a southern gal who didn't speak a lick of English when we first met, and I still don't know Spanish.
In short, kids need a rounded education that covers more than one area.
When I was selling computers, I was also working night shirt at the plant. I got off one Sunday at noon, then went to help with a habitat house. While there, I helped set rafters with three other guys climbing on top of the structure. That Wednesday, I was fixing a problem at the County Attorney's office when one of my roof buds hung over the dutch door and greeted me. We bantered back and forth for about five minutes while the office manager stood by with anger written all OVER her face.
When Jim departed, she asked me how I'd met him, and if I had any idea who it was that I had joked so casually with.
Don't know who was more shocked, me to learn this guy who was banging nails was the prosecuting attorney for the city, or her to learn he had been building a house. The other two guys were a doctor and a college professor.
In my tenure as a business owner, I have had quite a number of college kids who needed extra money. One of them is now a professor, one is head engineer at a large electrical company, another is a minister.