College & Workforce Readiness

Teacher of Year Laments Loss of Vocational Education

By Catherine Gewertz — June 04, 2009 1 min read
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The new National Teacher of the Year is urging people to respect the role vocational education can play in the lives of adolescents.

In an interview with Elizabeth Rich of Teacher Magazine, high school special ed teacher Anthony Mullen says he is going to make dropouts a big focus during his year as ambassador for teaching. A sample of what the former New York City cop has to say about how to make things better in our high schools:

“The solution right now to preventing the dropout rate is to not put 100 percent focus on high schools and all things academic. It’s important that every student gets an academic background, but we’ve lost vocational education. Most of our high schools are geared towards getting students into college. And yet we have this population of students—millions of students, literally—who want to do what our ancestors have done for thousands of years: They want to work with their hands. They don’t want to sit in a desk all day. They want to build, they want to create, they want to design. And we’re losing that because we’re so concerned that they take the extra science, the extra math, the extra history and all these things to go to college when all these vocational opportunities are passing them by.”

An interesting—and increasingly popular—point of view as policymakers debate what high school must offer in order to be sure that all students get diplomas, and that those diplomas are strong launching pads for jobs or more education.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the High School Connections blog.