Vocational education an antiquated system

October 22, 2011 — by Nick Chow

As the United States continues to fall behind the rest of the world in education quality, despite billions of dollars spent, people have begun looking to alternative methods of education. One of these options is vocational education. Instead of aiming to prepare students for college, vocational high schools aim to train students in career skills, so they can go on to find employment rather than higher education.

As the United States continues to fall behind the rest of the world in education quality, despite billions of dollars spent, people have begun looking to alternative methods of education. One of these options is vocational education. Instead of aiming to prepare students for college, vocational high schools aim to train students in career skills, so they can go on to find employment rather than higher education.

These careers include manual careers such as computer maintenance, electronics and drafting. Unfortunately, vocational education in high school is often detrimental to the overall education of students.

The belief is that by preparing students for a trade, students are more likely to remain in high school. Furthermore, it is also believed that these students are more trained in practical skills than their non-vocational education counterparts and will be employable upon graduation.

However, these advantages are far out-weighed by their disadvantages. The first is that after high school, students applying to vocational education colleges typically embark on two-year degrees.

While a two-year college education seems much better and more expedient than the alternative four-year college program, the reality is that most jobs in the coming decades will require at a minimum four-year degree, if not more. As countless jobs are outsourced to countries where labor is much cheaper, workers in the United States will need to either accept low wages or pursue higher education.

Furthermore, the claim that vocational schools decrease the number of high school dropouts is unfounded. A 2004 study by the Mathematica Policy Research Inc. found that the average high school student’s chance of dropping out of a vocational education is the same as the chance of dropping out of a regular high school education.

Recently, California’s bill AB 1330 has been passed that allows students to substitute one class in vocational studies in place of one of the current high school graduation requirements for art, music or foreign languages. Unfortunately, since art and foreign language classes are more much more likely to be certified as college-prep courses than vocational classes, students who choose vocational classes are likely to finish high school ineligible for the University of California and the California State University systems, further impeding higher education.

Not only is the passed bill damaging to a student’s chances of qualifying for California colleges, the bill essentially dooms art and music classes in some districts. In the past two years, California’s budget problems have prompted over three-quarters of California’s school districts to reduce art and music programs, while one quarter of school districts dropping art and music completely. With the addition of this new law, schools will cut back art and music even further.

This is the complete wrong move for schools. Art and music are more than just mere high school classes; they foster creativity and inspiration and serve as an outlet for students’ ideas and feelings. In 20 years, creativity and ingenuity acquired from the arts will serve workers better than any career-prep class.

Likewise, by implementing this law, the role of foreign language classes will also be diminished, which is a fatal mistake.

Whether people realize it or not, English is not going to be the one universal language that works everywhere. And as today’s economy develops, new nations are rising in economic stature. Learning foreign languages allows students to open their minds to different languages and cultures, which will be integral in their success on the international stage.

The benefits of vocational education are far surpassed by its numerous disadvantages. By implementing vocational education in high schools, the arts and foreign languages are being continually neglected, although they are an essential part in all people’s development. In order to promote a more learned and overall educated society for students, high schools should stay away from the path of vocational education.