Monday, July 11, 2011

Still More on Vocational and Technical Education

In case you missed it, the New York Times did  a long article on Saturday on the fate of Career and Technical Education schools: Tough Calculus as Technical Schools Face Deep Cuts.

Federal funding to vocational and technical schools could be cut by 20% in the next budget. In States like Connecticut, where state funding is disappearing as well, this could mean the closing of many technical high schools.

These cuts are baffling -- technical high schools have a much higher graduation success rate than general "comprehensive" high schools -- 90% for technical high schools v. 75% at a traditional high school.

And the success of these schools doesn't come by lowering standards. In fact, in a recent survey, employers were much happier with students coming from technical high schools than traditional ones.

And the Times article points to a Massachusetts analysis that technical high school graduates actually do better on reading and math tests than traditional high schools. With such a strong record of achievement, our elected leaders would do better increasing funding to technical high schools, rather than cutting it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Strange happenings in Bridgeport

In a new first for Connecticut, the Bridgeport Board of Education simply gave up on the task of creating a budget and educating the kids.  Things are so bad in Bridgeport that the elected Board members believe that strangers and outsiders would better serve the needs of their children. They are most probably correct, but it is still a sad day when acrimony between board members is so terrible that they give up the job and walk away.

The Bridgeport school board requested that the State Department of Education take over the operation of the schools. The local elected leaders will be replaced by a five member panel appointed by acting commissioner of education, George Coleman. The press on this suggests that the main reason for the imploding of the Bridgeport school board is the inability of board members to "get along" and act like grown-ups.

The take-over by the state of Connecticut's second largest school district (with 31 schools, Bridgeport has about 20,000 students enrolled) has also been driven by the $18 million budget short-fall. However, the State has said that it will not have any money available to increase the Bridgeport budget. Basically, the State will decide what to cut and what to save, rather than local elected board members.

Maybe that's for the best as the Board of Education has managed to hire more than 100 administrators making more than $100,000 each, with little to show for it.