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City Councilors Frank Baker, John Connolly seek to start converstation about vocational schools

Posted by Patrick Rosso  January 17, 2013 11:08 AM

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City Councilors Frank Baker and John Connolly filed an Order for a Hearing to review vocational education in the city.

The call for a hearing was partially prompted after the review of a report that detailed the gaps at Roxbury’s Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, Boston Public School’s only vocational high school.

“As a product of vocational education myself, I appreciate the need for our city to have a viable vocational option for our students,” Baker, who represents Dorchester, said in a statement. “Not everyone is built to go to college. A trade school is another decent, respectable option that offers students a solid pathway to a variety of careers and the potential to earn good middle-class wages.”

Designated an Innovation School in 2012 after a vote by staff and BPS’ School Committee, Madison Park administrators are currently redesign the school. The innovation status gives administrators greater flexibility in curriculum design and more independence from the teachers’ union.

The councilors see the designation as an opportunity to bring vocational studies to the forefront at the school and in the city.

“Innovation status at Madison Park gives us an opportunity to look at what vocational education can be,” Connolly, an at-large councilor, said in a statement. “We will push the district to adopt proven best practices in vocational education to make Madison Park a leader and improve outcomes for our students.”

In the report “Promise and Potential: Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, the BPS Acceleration Agenda and a Pathway of Opportunity for Boston Students” cited by the Councilors, it found that the school’s “performance on the state's assessment is below the district average,” but the review does acknowledged that the school, “has a solid foundation for success.”

The report also generated six “high-priority” issues that it suggested be implemented.

Suggestions in the report, which was released in Jan. 2012, included: creating more opportunities for students to do “authentic” work; integrated academic and vocational education; the adoption of a new schedule; a new admissions protocol; raising expectations; and reinvigorating the ninth-grade transition to keep incoming freshmen at the school.

“With the Boston Building Trades in our back yard, Boston should be a leader in vocational education and our vocational schools should be a national model for others to admire an emulate,” Baker said in the statement. “We have seriously fallen behind in creating a high-quality vocational high school in the City of Boston and it is time to refocus our efforts.”

A date has not yet been set for the hearing.

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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