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A Boost for Vocational Education

A Hammer in a Student Workspace

The Lincoln Unified school district in Stockton, California, has placed an $8.5 million bet on the value of vocational education, the Stockton Record reports. That’s the cost of the newly-opened Jeff Wright Engineering and Construction Academy at Lincoln High School. Some 500 students will study topics ranging from carpentry to computerized drafting to mechanical engineering. Instructors are calling the state-of-the-art facility “a building that teaches,” the Record says. It’s named after a 57-year-old architecture and drafting teacher who dreamed it up and then spent 10 years guiding it to fruition.

San Joaquin County Schools superintendent Mick Founts is a big supporter. He tells the Stockton Record that federal education initiatives like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top focus too much on standardized testing. Test scores may have climbed over the last 10 years, Founts says, but colleges complain more than ever that high schools are not properly preparing students for the rigors of higher education. By contrast, he tells the paper, career and technical education programs enable kids to “get a job, earn a good living and really be productive in our society.”

Instructor Dave Dabaco agrees: “For far too long in our schools, the manual trades have been given little honor. In the current soaring technological revolution, you still can’t drive a nail over the Internet.”

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