Thursday, January 11, 2007

News alert: Schwarzenegger does something right on schools

Voc-ed prudence
Press Enterprise
Boosting vocational education is not a big, splashy initiative like reforming health care or cutting global warming. Yet Gov. Schwarzenegger's plans to bolster technical education in California deserve a high profile, too, because better vocational programs are vital to providing the state with workers trained for the future.
The governor's 2007-08 budget would send $52 million to the state's vocational ed programs. The money would expand the number of technical training courses available to students, boost partnerships between schools and industry, and improve coordination of vocational training between high schools and community colleges.
California needs skilled carpenters, electricians, auto mechanics and other technicians. But the state's schools often shortchange technical training, thanks to the unrealistic expectation that every grade-school student is college bound.
In fact, only 39 percent of Californians ages 18 to 25 -- the traditional age for college attendance -- were college students in 2005, according to an October report by the Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy at Cal State Sacramento. The Inland figure was 33 percent. Fewer than one-third of all Californians, and just 19 percent of Inland residents, had a bachelor's degree in 2005.
In a budget that proposes $103 billion in general fund spending, $52 million may seem inconsequential. But the money shows that Schwarzenegger understands schools' duty to help non-college students prepare for careers.
Yes, a college education opens career doors and can boost a worker's earnings. But California education policy should not mistake idealism for reality: The college track is not for everyone.
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