Vocational Education

In your Labor Day editorial (Sept. 4), you commendably dovetail Robert Reich's lament about the declining wage levels and standard of living for the "frayed collar" working class and urge the pursuit of "knowledge--education and training" especially for non-college-bound students.

Something vital and proven is missing in your scenario for readying our work force for the global economy of the 21st Century: the very cost-effective Regional OccupationalPrograms and Centers (ROP/C) operating in virtually every high school in California, as well as our vaunted vo-tech programs serving thousands of students in the state's community college system.

I served for several years as a board member and twice president of the Capistrano Laguna Beach ROP. I can tell you from firsthand observation as a board member and parent that our curriculum offered classes in more than 50 high-demand occupational areas, from emergency medical training and hospital administration to floristry and computer repair. We served more than 4,000 adult and high school students annually at about half the ADA cost of the regular K-12 programs statewide ($2,170 per student). In addition, the Laguna Beach Unified School District has developed, in conjunction with leaders of the local business community and the ROP, a "workability transcript" that assesses the demonstrated job-entry abilities of all of our high school students as they near graduation.

We need not entirely reinvent the work-readiness wheel. These valuable programs have encountered severe funding problems in the past few years. As your editorial and Reich indicate, the current economy accentuates the need for job training, retraining and work site apprenticeships, all in conjunction with the private business sector. We, therefore, must recognize and build upon what the ROP, the public high schools and community colleges have already pioneered in this area.


Laguna Beach


* The state task force report on teaching methods (Sept. 13) is probably six years tardy. Many of us associated with apprenticeship in California are well aware the teaching methods for reading skills (and math) are not adequate. When an applicant claims a high school diploma and has graduated from a California school, too many times that applicant cannot read, let alone understand the application or do a simple general knowledge test. Math is worse. We in apprenticeship training have been forced into being math teachers as well as vocational instructors, and we have to start with addition and then teach the difference between feet and inches (and reading a tape measure).

I hope state Supt. of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin will implement the changes on a "fast track." It is a sad situation to see young people embarrassed by their lack of basics and then realize that much of a 12-year education was a waste.

BILL NITZER, Director of Training

Southern California Floor Covering Crafts

Joint Apprenticeship & Training

Committee, Santa Fe Springs

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