Facing discrimination in vocational schools


Many advocate a lottery system to resolve the inequity in current admissions. Certainly, a lottery is superior to the status quo – that’s why I introduced a law to put in place such a system. But changing admission standards alone won’t create a path to a trade for the thousands of students currently on waiting lists across the state. In addition to admissions reform, the state needs to dramatically increase investment in vocational programs available in traditional high schools.

Jeffrey Riley, State Commissioner for Elementary and Secondary Education, is to lead the change through regulatory reform and targeted grants to comprehensive high schools. Now is the time to act boldly.

John J. Cronin


The writer is a state senator representing the counties of Worcester and Middlesex.

Success has increased demand

Your March 18 article on Inequalities in Massachusetts Vocational School Admission is on the right track. As these schools have become more popular due to their success in preparing young people for both college and careers, they have often instituted admission requirements that limit opportunities for disadvantaged students. This is ironic because, especially in communities of color, these schools still carry a stigma of their past as a “dumping ground” for students who have fallen behind in their academic performance, including low-income and low-income youth. blacks and latinos, learners of English and those with disabilities.

Yet today, students who attend these schools have higher graduation rates and often, higher earnings than those who follow an academic course. This income can help them pay for post-secondary education which, as your article notes, may be required for certain technical careers, such as those in healthcare.

Unfortunately, the article also perpetuates the use of the obsolete term vocational education, which is no longer used in most states, where it is referred to as vocational and technical education. Use of this term has been encouraged in order to help shake off the stigma of “old” technical and vocational (voc-tech) education, and I urge the Globe to adopt the updated terminology.

Ilene Kantrov


The writer is the former director of the Career and Workforce Success programs at Educational Development Center in Waltham and is currently a member of the board of directors of the National Coalition of Career Academies.

Isn’t there a simpler answer?

It may sound simplistic, but the answer to Massachusetts vocational school admissions problem is to create more niches. It can be costly, but the alternative outcome of unqualified adults is more costly. It is ridiculous that any student who wants to study and improve their future is denied a vocational school.

Ellen penso

West Newton


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