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Vocational and Technical Education Meet Parent Resistance

Career and technical education has come a long way since the days when students could be steered from academics into hairstyling, auto repairs or carpentry. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to sell the concept of having all students take courses in CTE, as it is known.

Take what happened this March in La Jolla, Calif. Parents rose in protest after the San Diego Unified School District  proposed new high school graduation requirements mandating two years of career and technical education courses—or two to four courses. The district would have been the first in the nation to have such a mandate, experts believe. Parents circulated an online protest petition and school officials spent hours in a meeting to assure hundreds of parents that courses like computerized accounting, child development and website design could be in the best interest of all students.

But afterwards, when parent leaders asked the crowd who favored the requirement, every single parent at the meeting voted against it.

District officials were unprepared for the backlash in the affluent neighborhoods north of Interstate 8, the unofficial boundary between the haves and have-nots of the district. Just two years earlier, the school system passed a mandate—supported by the community—to make all students complete a set of courses required for entry to one of the state’s university systems.

They viewed career and technical education courses as a logical extension of their goal to get all students “college and career ready,” said Sid Salazar, the district’s assistant superintendent for instructional support services. Attending college was once the sole way students could prepare for some professions but opportunities now exist in high school under an expanded definition of career and technical education.

The parents, though, argued that college-bound students wouldn’t be helped by taking career and technical education classes. As one parent wrote on an online petition that garnered 1,326 signatures in 21 days: “If you force the children of … highly intelligent and very academic parents to take less-rigorous VoTech coursework, you will hurt their chances of admission to undergrad and grad school.”…

via Hechinger Report | Push for career-technical education meets parent resistance.

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