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Vocational High Schools in Philadelphia Aren’t Concerned With Students Going to College

PHILADELPHIA—The halls of Randolph Technical High School looks like almost any other public school in an urban core: a labyrinth of classrooms and lockers housed in an old building, hallways loud with constant chatter and chaos as students and teachers bustle around. But inside these classrooms, students are just as likely to be found working dental X-ray machines or learning how to sauté vegetables as they are to be sitting at a desk, learning about math or history.

The goal is to graduate kids who have options. They can go on to a community college or a four-year degree program. They can also start a career with a marketable skill and three years of training behind them, making them more likely to secure a job and higher wages, instead of floundering out in the job market, where more than 10 percent of young adults with only a high school diploma are unemployed and more than 20 percent live in poverty, according to Pew Research Center.