Maybe the Tea Party’s onto something. It just has to be a conspiracy. Consider the latest educational news from the state.
Lawmakers have been ranting for years about vocational education, making school relevant, graduating kids quickly and preparing students for the real world.
Well. Cool. We’re all for it. Ditto the voters, who approved a ballot measure some years back that set up a vocational education system, which relies on regional districts that funnel vocational money to K-12 schools.
Marvelous idea. Only about a quarter of students graduate from college — so why not make sure students who don’t want, or can’t afford, a four-year degree, nonetheless have valuable job skills?
What’s a good example: How about nursing or fighting fires. Marvelous idea.
But wait: Remember, we’re talking about the Arizona legislative brain trust. They’ve never met a good idea they couldn’t screw up. So what’s happening?
Well, last year the Legislature cut off vocational education funding for high school freshmen — like students enrolled in Payson’s innovative engineering course series.
Kick in the head. Shake it off. Stay on your feet. Shift some district funds around — keep it going. The program remains way too valuable to let those knuckleheads kneecap it.
So the state looks around. Notices it hasn’t quite crippled vocational education. Hmm. What next?
Wait for it ...
Here we go: Payson has teamed up with Gila Community College to create wonderfully successful programs in nursing and fire sciences. Bright, hard-working students can enroll in college classes while still in high school. If they’re dedicated, they can graduate high school with a certificate in one of those fields. The voter-approved vocational program pays much of the cost and so puts a career within reach of an ambitious student from a struggling family. Brilliant. Finally. A something to help families.
But there’s a catch — it’s Arizona — you knew there had to be a catch. The state department of education has now decided not to pay for the academic classes students seeking the nursing and fire science certificates need. So instead of graduating high school with a saleable skill — students face more college and mounting costs. Once again, the state cut the legs off a program that’s actually working. Better get a paramedic to stop the bleeding — assuming you can find one with a certificate.
Why would they do such a stupid thing? Just makes no sense. Unless. Unless. Do you suppose it’s the Trilateral Commission, keeping the underclass in its place? Some convoluted conspiracy of the elite? Because it’s either that or the department of education is just as clueless about education as the Arizona Legislature.