What Determines “Fairness” in Admissions to Vocational Schools?

Over time, the goal should be for the demographics of vocational schools to reflect the demographics of the communities they serve. But students should understand that they must compete for entry into schools where demand exceeds supply, and schools should have the right to set minimum criteria for entry into the pool from which a lottery will determine the ‘admission. Criteria can include things like student letters of interest, grades, attendance, and teacher recommendations. The last thing we want to do is get back to a world in which vocational schools are seen as second class, only for students seen as incapable of doing rigorous academic work.

Bob schwartz

Newton Center

The writer is Emeritus Professor of Practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-author of “Learning for Careers”.

Give people what they want

In “Fighting for fairness in professional-ed admissions”, the Globe editorial board puts forward the idea of ​​a lottery to make admissions to these schools more equitable. Here’s another idea along the same lines: giving people what they want. If there is a long queue to enter vocational schools, it is a clue that the demand is there. School districts and school councils can either respond to that or say, “We know what’s best for your kids, and those schools aren’t the ones you’re lining up for.” “

If school committees asked, they might find that there is a demand among parents and students for a small high school (versus mega high school which is usually the one and only choice) or for a school with a plus. wide range of course choices than the narrow college curriculum. Their wider range may partly explain the demand for vocational schools. The work of a school committee should be simple: Just two steps: (1) Find out what people want. (2) Give it to them.

Eric Reenstierna


Invest in the development of an adult workforce

We applaud the recent attention to increasing capacity in vocational and technical schools (“Struggling for equity in vocational admissions”) as well as the addition of vocational and technical education courses in local secondary schools. While this supports long-term planning, we must also draw attention to meeting the need for skilled labor today. Massachusetts has the opportunity to invest in adult and immigrant development, and we need to improve those investments in adult learning pathways to keep our economy moving. Fortunately, we’ve built some of these pipelines through innovative nonprofit training organizations, the state’s Commonwealth Corporation, and community colleges. As we anticipate an influx of federal stimulus dollars, stepping up vocational training and adult English classes would be an effective investment for the Commonwealth.

Kathie mainzer

Executive Director, The Workforce Solutions Group


Bring workplace learning to all schools

Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius presented a vision for investments in education (“A Renewed Vision for Boston Public Schools”, Opinion, March 29). I believe, as pointed out in your recent coverage of vocational schools in Massachusetts, that there should be a strong commitment to address the lack of access to vocational and technical education. In addition to addressing CTE enrollment issues, we should increase workplace learning for all High school students in Massachusetts and offer experiences such as the State’s Innovation Pathways that help students choose their careers.

Our vocational schools are national models of excellence. It is therefore not surprising that they attract students from all walks of life. With limited enrollment, many students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are absent. I believe our students choose vocational schools because they want to test and try. This generation is self-reliant and virtually views educational decisions as a means to an end: pursuing a career driven by their passions and interests.

They seek the “real world” experience offered by vocational schools and opportunities to apply learning and gain experience in careers before graduating from high school. Vocational schools are responding to this cry. But so are workplace learning and innovation pathways embedded in all high school offering all students with equitable access to opportunities.

Jean Eddy


The writer is President and CEO of American Student Assistance, a Boston-based non-profit organization that helps students with their education and career choices.

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