Vocational Training: Economy in Education


Metamodern Education. Vocational Training: Economics Effects Education.

“I can’t understand, why for the life of me, did we stop vocational training in our Public Schools?” – Marco Rubio


By EJ Wickes
Vocational students (above) compete in a NASA design competition.

That’s and excellent question, Marco and an important one. It’s another indicator of how “neo-liberal” American economics has failed us. I myself have been wondering about that for years. After seeing an increased amount of advertising for privately owned technical institutes over the years; with the economy and manufacturing slowing to a virtual stand-still through free trade agreements like NAFTA, we were also seeing a decline in public school vocational training programs. I believe that mystery has just been solved, and for a number of reasons has led to more economic and social dysfunction than ever before.

With contemporary American economics, it has to virtually tank before any damage control is initiated. Those at the top of the food chain will have already filled their coffers to overwhelming sustainability as debates for Austerity and belt tightening programs ensue. We talk about preventative medicine. Is there such a thing as preventative economics?

As budget cuts have to be considered; from which end to cut the fat becomes the question. Since any form of socialism in America is to be vehemently denied, cuts in public spending are the first up on the chopping block. Social services and of course any extra-curricular training programs in our public school systems having to do with the arts and vocational training are the first to go. The fat generally gets cut from the bottom as we’ve seen with reductions in Food Stamps assistance, attempts to privatize Social Security, raise retirement ages and the decline of specialized vocational training in our primary education system.

By ninth grade students were either pursuing an academic curriculum or some skilled vocational training. Vocational training has often been the answer for many students who would not otherwise seek a college education. Shop classes were an introduction to a rewarding career for many high school kids who had less of an aptitude or patience to sit in a class room all day. Sometimes the kids going to “vokie” were considered a little rough around the edges with less aptitude for academia than the rest.

Not only was this a biased attitude, but the “dumb” kids who were anything but “dumb” who graduated vocational school were usually making great money by the time the other kids were starting their freshman year at college. The only “dumb” thing about that was cutting technical and vocational training from our public school system.

Chart-400pxEconomics plays an important role in education. When manufacturing in America thrived, America thrived. Many Americans with less than a college education had a larger range of opportunity through more “localized” business relationships. This symbiotic dynamic fostered domestic manufacturing and economic growth. From a central nervous system comes supporting industries providing luxuries and services. More production means more money in circulation and more disposable income for dining out, appreciating the arts or guns and ammo. We define these as qualities of life.

Along with that comes the municipal tax base. Without property taxes our schools suffer and fail to serve the needs of a sustainable community. Without adequate income, those taxes cannot be validated. Manufacturing was the impetus of the inner cities at one time. As manufacturing declined, industrial sections were abandoned, and in some cases left to decay and zoned for congested minority housing projects.

As extracurricular activities and vocational training disappear, what’s left for hyper-active young people to focus their energy toward? “Youth who embrace the culture of violence are most likely to be those who feel that they have no stake in society and no trust in the adults who are supposed to provide them with safety and guidance. Communities must address the culture of violence and lack of opportunity and alternatives, reaching out to youth who feel disenfranchised from the adult world and providing them with positive opportunities. An effective strategy is one that includes young people as a resource and provides legitimate activities and opportunities for them.” – Source

It doesn’t take a 54 page report from the CDC to explain what’s acutely apparent to most. As we focus American economics abroad through commerce and warfare we have recklessly abandoned our economic and urban infrastructures here at home. This has generated a spirit of socialism throughout a majority of voters as Bernie Sanders’ popularity grows. Even Donald Trump, the Republican bad boy, offers solutions for trade not heard since Ross Perot.

There is empirical evidence that with the decline of vocational training and character development in our public schools, social dysfunction leading to urban violence has risen. Our students are being processed more than taught and in the inner cities; ignored even more than processed. This mismanagement of education has discouraged many a good teacher from pursuing their goals in any sincere method. Classical approaches to education have been reduced to the resourcing of humans as capital. The creative industrial arts are no longer feasible or profitable to American economics as production and manufacturing displaces local economies all over the world.

There was a time when not many Americans were complaining about our public school system; a time when the middle class was strong and neighborhoods could support a more advantageous, youth friendly environment. There were many more public pools, tennis courts, activities and publicly funded driver’s education programs to benefit from over the summer vacation. Smaller municipalities had enough income and tax revenue to support many of the infrastructures we used to take for granted as they gradually disappeared.

Every economy in history has been built on the backs of ordinary every day citizens. We realize that this could not be possible without the investment of capital. But when capital takes for granted its own investment and ceases to reinvest its dividends by cutting back on education and vocational training, it does the country and itself a great disservice.

”Academics make you smarter. Athletics make you stronger. And Art makes you human.”


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