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School Reforms Said To Cut Time for Vocational Training

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In a recent nationwide survey of 181 secondary and postsecondary vocational educators, more than 60 percent said their students have a "decreasing" amount of time to take vocational courses.

Of the 91 high-school vocational-education teachers surveyed in the American Vocational Association poll, nearly 80 percent said time for vocational education had decreased for their students, with some respondents attributing the lack of time to "increased academic requirements."

In addition, more than two-thirds of the secondary vocational educators queried reported declining enrollments in their classes over the last three years, with 11 percent reporting a "severe" decrease and 59 percent reporting a "slight" decrease.

Echoes National Report

The survey bears out the arguments of a report on vocational education released last November by the National Commission on Secon-dary Vocational Education. (See Ed-ucation Week, Nov. 28, 1984.)

In the report, titled "The Unfinished Agenda: The Role of Vocational Education in the High School," the commission contended that the reform movement, with its emphasis on increased study of traditional academic subjects by all students, fails to consider "differences in student interest and ability," as well as "the needs of those high-school students who do not plan to go to college and who purposefully choose a vocational program."

More Federal Funds

The ava has used the results of the January survey to argue for increased federal funds for vocational education in recent Congressional appropriations hearings, according to James Day, director of the Council of Vocational Educators, which conducted the survey for the ava

Although academic reform advocates have shifted education's emphasis away from vocational training, Mr. Day noted that recent federal legislation calls for development of vocational-education programs.

The federal budget allocated $742.1 million for vocational education in the fiscal year 1985, which ends Sept. 30. The ava is asking the Congress for an additional $100-million appropriation for the current fiscal year, Mr. Day said. For its fiscal 1986 request, the association is using "as a benchmark" the $950-million figure authorized by the Congress for fiscal 1985 vocational-education funding with passage of the Carl D. Perkins Act last fall. (See Education Week, Oct. 31, l984.)

The Perkins Act requires, among other things, that states establish state boards of vocational education to administer programs called for by the legislation.

Nearly 70 percent of the vocational educators responding to the ava survey said funding limitations prevented them from "developing or expanding" programs that would "meet employment opportunities" offered to students in their region. They cited "high-technology" and trade and industrial programs among those most in need of development, Mr. Day said.

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