A new report has raised concerns about the future of regional occupational programs that are geared to helping high school students explore career options and be prepared to enter the workforce after graduation.
The report, released this month by the California Department of Education, shows a 20 percent drop in the number of career technical high school teachers between 2011-12 and 2012-13. And only 38 percent of the state’s high school students took career tech courses in 2012-13, about 12 percent fewer students than the year before.
The decline “is staggering,” said Lloyd McCabe, author of the report and an education administrator for the education department’s Career Technical Education Leadership and Instructional Support Office. “You look at it and think it can’t be right. But I did the data twice.”
The decline reflects a shift in the state’s priorities away from traditional occupational classes such as auto shop or carpentry to career-oriented programs that put students on a college track. Some contend this shift is needed to ensure that students have as many options as possible when they graduate from high school. Others argue that the state has gone too far, overlooking students who are not college-bound and who need to be prepared to enter the work force or a short-term training program directly out of high school.
Career tech includes a broad range of courses from the basic high school automotive shop class to