The 10 candidates for Massachusetts governor all seem to agree that vocational schools are as much about economic development as they are about education. But the candidates have differing opinions about how to train the next generation of workers.
Some called for more partnerships between high schools, community colleges, and the private sector to make sure students receive the right combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training to pursue college or career upon graduation. That’s the model used for the partnership between Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and Roxbury Community College, named Roxbury Massachusetts Academic Polytech Pathway.
And there are those who said the state needs to spend more to make sure facilities are equipped with up-to-date hardware, software, and real-world equipment, while others said the state should not spend more on programs or facilities.
Charlie Baker said he wants to expand access to vocational education by increasing awareness and creating dual-enrollment programs in which technical schools offer associate degrees developed in partnership with public and private colleges.
Mark Fisher said the state does not need to spend more on vocational schools; instead, it should better promote existing schools so students can graduate ready for the workforce but not necessarily college.
Joe Avellone said in addition to creating dual-enrollment programs with technical high schools and community colleges, the state must return vocational education to traditional high schools and ensure curriculum reflects today’s digital world.
Don Berwick said the state must do everything it can to expand pathways to graduating from high school, including more partnerships between community colleges and vocational schools; tapping industry for mentors, internships, and apprenticeships; and ensuring the state's Office for Career/Vocational Technical Education has the necessary resources.
Martha Coakley said while technical schools are among the best ways to ensure students are ready for college and career, the facilities often need updating, the state needs to provide more money, and the business community needs to be more involved.
Steve Grossman said it is critical for the state to increase funding for vocational-technical schools; this will motivate businesses to match public funds for updated facilities and curriculum so students have the skills employers want.
Juliette Kayyem said there is a need for qualified vocational education teachers who can prepare high-schoolers — and adults looking to improve their station in life — for college and career; resources to do this, she said, must come through collaborations among businesses, unions, and government.
Evan Falchuk said vocational schools expose students to a variety of occupations while giving them the option of going to college, starting a career, or doing both; and though the state should provide the schools more money, the schools must build partnerships with local businesses.
said urban areas could benefit from dual-enrollment programs that allow students to earn a high school diploma, associates degree, and industry certification but only if such programs
don’t come with what he called an additional layer of taxes.
Jeff McCormick said he would like to see more community colleges and technical high schools partner and give students the chance to choose a direction that includes a four-year degree or a specialized trade, and vocational training that reflects modern technology.