Sunday, August 7, 2011

Of Vocational Education

I considered titling this post "Of Social Democratic Education", since I consider myself a (moderate) social democrat; but because that might involve me in long digressions, I have titled this as you see. Socialists have their historic origins in collective advocacy for ordinary workers, and at this time when so many workers, including young ones, are out of jobs, it is natural for employment to be on the minds of those who care about social justice and public education.

Our current systems for vocational education are not working in a satisfactory manner. Large percentages of the young (over 40 percent of young black males, for example) are both unemployed, at least in a legal sense, and virtually unemployable, without major social interventions. The gang lifestyle, in addition to being a quasi-feudal attempt to enhance personal security in an era strangely reminiscent, in our inner cities, of the beginning of the Dark Ages, is an economic choice made by young people trying to calculate their best interests.

Without a new approach to vocational education, I don't see how we are likely to escape this mess. One possibility would be to emulate aspects of the Japanese and German approaches to vocational education, so that our students who don't like general education and aren't doing well in it would have the option of choosing special vocational schools in the upper secondary secondary years, where they might remediate any shortcomings in core subject matter while also qualifying for apprenticeships and gaining deserved recommendations for employment. The free market is not working in the ghetto.

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