Vocation programs in New York public high schools have sharply decreased over the past decade due to a lack of funding and an NCLB-driven curriculum. In 1992, 41 percent of the state’s public high school students completed at least one vocational course, compared with 25 percent last year. “We started raising standards and adding more requirements, and something had to fall off the plate,” Buffalo Schools Superintendent James A. Williams told the Buffalo News.
The Buffalo school system has seen a drop of 29 percent enrollment in vocational classes since 1999, forcing local businesses to fill apprentice positions with well-paid full-time trade workers. “We overreacted,” adds James P. Mazgajewski, superintendent of another upstate school district. “The bent became preparing kids for college—period. It’s nice...to be exposed to it, but it isn’t necessary for a mechanic to quote Shakespeare while he’s fixing my car.” School districts throughout the state are working to rebuild vocational education, weighing options such as lengthening the school day to accommodate the classes.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.