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Even Vocational High Schools Are Pushing Kids To Go To College

Construction Trades and Transit Tech in New York City are at the center of a transformation in what used to be called vocational education. Once viewed as an educational backwater or a dumping ground for poor students, it is now “career and technical education,” or CTE — aimed at giving all types of students the training they’ll need for technology-driven jobs and to meet employers’ needs for skilled workers. To succeed in these fields, proponents of CTE say, many, if not most, students will need to continue their educations after 12th grade.

CTE is public education’s response to the economic fallout that accompanied the country’s loss of well-paying blue-collar work. At high schools like Construction Trades and Transit Tech, all students are enrolled in a career program offering a full curriculum of classes and work-based learning in a specific field, such as auto mechanics or information technology. Many more schools around the country offer career programs alongside full-time academics, with some students moving back and forth between them. New York City operates 318 career programs scattered among 127 public high schools.