Big Job for Vocational Education

Article excerpt

U.S. District Judge George F. Gunn Jr. has kept the appropriate pressure on the Special School District to improve the vocational education it provides high school students. Vocational education has been shortchanged for too long. By adopting recommendations of the Metropolitan Coordinating Council, Judge Gunn has put the Special District on notice that if it does not come up with better results, the program could be taken over by someone else.

Far from being the training ground for jobs that will be in demand in the years to come, vocational education too often has been a dumping ground for students who can't seem to make the grade academically. In the St. Louis area, students were given skills for industries that didn't need new workers, and their training cost far more than similar education in other parts of Missouri. A report filed with Judge Gunn earlier this year described the recent history of the program as "a decade of decline, turbulence and turf battles."

If fulfilled, the recommendations adopted by the judge last week would go a long way toward changing that sorry history. Most noticeable was the goal of at least 75 percent job placement of students within 180 days after graduation, but that aim is the end product, not a starting point. …