After hearing one person after another fault selective admissions policies in public vocational schools, the state’s top education official let people know the state’s current position on the matter.
“We plan to address professional admissions at our December board meeting,” Education Commissioner Jeff Riley said in a brief response to a chorus of testimony claiming that admissions policies opposed minority students.
Members of the Vocational Education Justice Coalition called on the board to impose a policy change that would grant equal access to admissions to anyone who passed eighth grade, saying the change would open up access to jobs earning $40,000 to $50,000 a year for high school graduates who don’t go to college. They said it is not fair for schools to choose their students based on grades, attendance, discipline and guidance counselor recommendations.
“Students who might need these schools the most are being systematically excluded as the number of students from middle-income households and college-bound students increases,” Barbara Fields told the board. , representing the Black Educators Alliance of Massachusetts. “Students with a strong interest in pursuing a career in technical and vocational education cannot qualify for admission to the schools, which relegates them to the lowest paying jobs.”
Calling it “such an important matter,” council member Mary Ann Stewart had requested that the matter be placed on the agenda for a future meeting and recalled that about a year ago the council would ” start looking at some of the professional admissions policies.”
Riley then confirmed plans for the December reunion.
Council chair Katherine Craven suggested the council also look at the long-term success of vocational education by exploring the rates at which students attending the schools persist in their chosen fields after graduation. .