Louisiana offers new vocational technical program

Part 100 of 100 in the series Educating America

By Mary C. Tillotson | Watchdog.org

Three quarters of Louisiana school districts have signed up for Jump Start, an apprenticeship program that allows high school students to get hands-on experience in trades like construction and welding.

It’s all part of new partnerships with local private businesses.

“Too often, our students, our high school students lose sight of what they’re actually getting an education for, and maybe we’re not giving them an opportunity to explore that education,” said Robert Clouatre, director of education and training at ABC Pelican Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., a private business partnering with public schools through Jump Start.

Vocational education long has been seen as “a euphemism for failure,” said Bob Bowdon, executive director of Choice Media, but can be a helpful path toward a career.

“I think in the past, vocational was seen as a place for kids where who couldn’t make it, or didn’t want to go to college, would go,” said Teresa Foulger, a professor at Arizona State University and guest on Reform School.

But Jump Start, she said, sounds like a great program.

“I love it. The purpose of the school system is to prepare children to be productive society members, and we have a need for these vocational jobs,” she said. “I think these kids who are in vocational situations that are updated and engaged and preparing them for trades that really are relevant to society are important for us as a society to have as well.”

Choice Media and Foulger also discussed a Kentucy school administrator embezzling half a million dollars, a Georgia family barred from school because they opted out of testing, a California gubernatorial candidate who wants to fund schools instead of districts, and preschool.

Contact Mary C. Tillotson at mtillotson@watchdog.org.