By William Lewis
Public education has always been an important issue in New York City political campaigns. That is especially true in mayoral races.
This year our new mayor, Bill de Blasio, has given special attention to it. His appointment of new city Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina brings an administrator to office who has an impressive background, having served as a teacher, principal and deputy chancellor. She probably has one of the best résumés of anyone who has served as chancellor.
When speaking about what things she wants, she spoke about getting more parental involvement and better teacher training. She has also discussed charter schools without giving an opinion about them.
Up to this point, however, there has been little or no mention of vocational high schools in terms of promoting this type of educational institution.
Vocational schools seemed to work well during the 1940s and ’50s in terms of providing an academic education for half a school day and the rest of the school day for students learning trades such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical work and auto repair.
Not all students want to spend their learning time studying academic subjects, but they would be interested in learning building trades. There is a definite need for this line of instruction.
Some degree of emphasis should be placed on this type of education.
Students who graduate from high school with a vocational training background are more able to find a good job and develop a serious attitude toward the job market.
There is a definite need for this type of education. Building trade technical skills will be useful, and learning these skills will encourage teenage students to stay in school. The graduation rate will increase and give us a consistent number of students trained in the building trades.
When looking at the overall development of our public educational system, vocational schools can play an increasingly important role in the future.
It is time for vocational schools to receive some degree of priority in educational needs.
Our new chancellor will have many responsibilities in her new position, but hopefully some of her time can be spent promoting vocational high schools.
Building trade education is not the answer to all public education needs, but it can provide a need for our students and help to improve our city.
Other aspects of this emphasis could be a lessening of crimes within our school system.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a lot of interest to improving our city educational system. He started out by abolishing the city Board of Education and ran the schools mainly through the office of the chancellor and his own office. A lot more needs to be done.
Teacher training is important but teacher evaluations at times have been overrated. At some point students, especially high school students, have to be held accountable for their academic performance.
As we proceed further into the 21st century, we will be needing a more skilled workforce. Vocational schools can help in this effort. These institutions have helped in the past and can do more so now.
Academic education is not for everyone. We have to take into account the needs of the students and the needs of society at large.
We are always striving to improve our education system. Building trade schools can go a long way to improving it. It would be a big help if the new mayor and chancellor would give some emphasis to vocational schools.
This year will give us some good races, especially with Gov. Andrew Cuomo up for re-election. It will be interesting to see how the state Legislature will be made up after the fall election. There will be a lot of interest in which political party, Republican or Democratic, will control the state Senate.