Why We Should Support Technical High Schools

14188362_10153665149107653_5650818534286878485_oYou know how last week I brought up how this is the year of lasts with my oldest? Well, it’s also a year of firsts with my middle daughter. She started high school this year. She has not followed in her big sister’s foot steps in any sense of the word. Which is great, she needs to follow her own path. For middle school she attended a magnet school and when it came time for high school she chose to apply at a technical high school.  And she advocated for herself and her capability to handle the school and its curriculum. She was accepted and had loved every bit of school so far, especially the trade portion.

A few months ago when she started trying out the trades her school has to offer I posted about her progress on my personal Facebook page. I was slightly surprised by one so called friend’s reaction to this school, although I guess not really. And of course poking the bear probably isn’t a good idea, but she ended up unfriending me on Facebook. Of course I also received a lot more people who were really impressed with this opportunity that she was getting who wished that there was something similar where they lived. I didn’t even realize that Technical high schools were not a common thing. Honestly, I don’t know why they’re not. Lets face it, college is not for everyone. Yes, my oldest is doing college applications as we speak and I also went to college. College is important in this day and age, but it’s not necessary for everyone. We need people who can do the trades. And let me tell you my middle daughter has a pretty solid plan that I don’t think most 14 year old’s can say that they have. If she chooses her top trade she’ll work in it for a while and then go to college for business and eventually open her own business doing her trade. The fact that she will be able to get work in a trade right out of high school and therefore will be able to pay for her college education when she’s ready to is extremely admiral. She likely will not have large debts. I know I’m probably a tad biased as her mother and all, but that’s one smart cookie if I do say so myself.

So let me explain to you what has been happening for the past several weeks and why that so called friend objected to this method of teaching so much. So because my daughter is not only going to come out of high school ready to get a license in her trade, but she also has to complete the same amount of high school work that a typical high school student would do. Basically, her academic work which normally she would have 180 days to complete she has to do in 90 days. She will be doing 2 weeks of academics and 2 weeks of trades. Now, as a freshman they want the students to have a taste of each of the trades they offer, so they go through what’s called an exploratory phase. My daughter has already made it through the first phase where she did every single trade for two days each and then chose her top four of all those trades. She did receive a grade in each of her trades. The grade was more or less a participation grade which will be used in determining if she can ultimately get into her trade of choice. It makes sense because they can’t have too many students in one trade so they need a way to determine who’s best suited to get into their trade of choice.

My daughter is now in the 2nd phase of the exploratory program. She chose her top four, was placed into her top three and is now spending four days in each of her top three trades. Once this is done by the beginning of December she will then choose the trade that she will be learning for the rest of her time in this school. This has been such a great experience for her. It’s a challenge, but she’s loving every second of it. And she has been shocked to learn which trades she had the most interest in. Things that she never considered as possible career paths for her she’s now trying out to see if it’s something she wants to do.

Academics, which have generally in the past been difficult for her she doesn’t mind so much because every two weeks she knows she gets to go work in the trades. She actually continues working on her math and reading while in the trades. She continues to advocate for herself and her education in this school and she’s enjoying every second of being there. If I had my way I would have every state have a program just like this one. It’s not for everyone, but I know it works. I know alma mateurs of the school my daughter attends. Past graduates from decades ago who own their own business and have been working in their trade since graduation. If that’s not a glowing recommendation for this school and its model then I don’t know what is.

I don’t know that I’ll ever truly understand why that so called Facebook friend couldn’t see that this school model has its benefits and can be good for some students. I do understand her distaste for the fact that academics have to be completed in half the time. Things move quickly, yes, but we’re not talking about cramming stuff down students throats. They are coming out of high school employable and in areas that are highly needed. All of this is without cost. They are not racking up tons of debt to end up working some minimum wage job. This is why it’s important to support technical high schools everywhere. Every high school student who believes they will want to go into a trade after graduation and not go into college should have this opportunity that my daughter is receiving. College is not for everyone.

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