Bring Back The Voc-Tech Schools
There is an old joke going around about the man who called a plumber to solve a vexing leak in his pipes. When the plumber told the homeowner how much he charged per hour, the homeowner balked, saying that was more than he made as an attorney.
“I know,” said the plumber. “That’s why I gave up being a brain surgeon.” Funny, but unfortunately true. There was a time when there were several outstanding public vocational and technical high schools in New York City, all dedicated to teaching trades such as plumbing, cooking, secretarial skills, electrical repair, auto mechanics and even aviation engine repair and maintenance. Those students who did not want to go to college, or who did not have the skills to deal with a rigorous college program could choose from any of those schools and learn a trade that would make them very comfortable in life. Then came the civil rights and political correctness movements of the late 1960s and 1970s and it appeared that most of the college-bound programs were filled with white students, while most of the voc-tech programs were filled with minorities. That made the programs racist in nature just because they were packed with minorities, much like the decision that the firefighters test is racist because not enough minorities pass the test. The thinking was the same. So, the schools were closed and the city decided that every high school student could go to college, pass algebra, pass several high school Regents exams, even though every educator knew that the assumption was false. Now, we are in a position where students are being passed along in high school even though they don’t have the skills to get a job or go to college. High-skilled plumbers, electricians and other trades people get big bucks – if you can find one to work for you. The city should go quickly back to the time when there were various high school diplomas – general, vocational, commercial and academic. Let the kids fall where they may. That would go a long way to solving our job problem and, at the same time, will allow our students to succeed at what they can do best.