Vocational Education Column

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An amendment to the Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act that would provide services to single pregnant women has been added to the Senate's omnibus reauthorization bill, which was approved by the full Labor and Human Resources Committee last week.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, introduced the legislation to "clarify the ambiguity which has stymied full implementation" of programs designed to help single parents and displaced homemakers.

Senator Hatch, who was the original sponsor of the set-aside funds, said he had always intended that the funds be made available to unmarried pregnant teen-agers, but that there had been some doubt that the term "single parent" applied to them.

"It is very important that [these young women] receive vocational training and the related skills if they are to be self-sufficient, working mothers able to provide for themselves and their child," Senator Hatch said.

The Council of Chief State School Officers is studying the high dropout rates and low achievement levels of Hispanic women and how well vocational-education programs serve that population.

Under a $12,000 grant from the Hispanic Policy Development Institute, the council's Resource Center on Educational Equity is looking specifically at vocational-education programs that target Hispanic female students at risk for school failure.

Cynthia G. Brown, director of the center, said that vocational education represents an untapped resource for helping at-risk Hispanic women obtain upward mobility.

The ccsso's report will be issued next summer and will include, in addition to criteria for successful programs for Hispanic women, policy recommendations for improving their educational attainment.

Wayne Teague, Alabama's state superintendent of schools, has unveiled a "plan for excellence" for vocational education that includes a recommendation that graduation requirements be raised, starting with the class of 1992.

Under the plan, vocational-education graduates who meet the requirements would receive a "gold-seal vocational endorsement" on their diploma.

The requirements include completion of four, year-long courses in vocational concentrations; three courses in applied higher-level academic subjects; three courses each in mathematics, science, and computer-literacy skills; demonstrated basic-math and reading skills; and passage of an occupational-proficiency test.

The state board of education is expected to act on the plan by December.--rrw

Vol. 07, Issue 07

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