Monday, May 04, 2009

Peoria School District #150 - Vocational Schools

I first started attending meetings, helping school board member get elected, visiting schools, writing LTR's etc., in 1993, when I ran for the board of District #150; six candidates for one position, with the JSEB favorite being elected. I finished third behind Bob Baietto, former Richwoods principal. I realized then what so many before me realized, that not everybody was going to wear a white or pink collar and hold an office job. My drive for vocational education has been never ending.

I refer new school board member, "EyeBrows McGhee", to my blog of 8/5/05, "Disaster Day at District #150", writing about how in 1993, Superintendent John Strand closed all #150 vocational classes and instituted the Four Academy system. The system never was a big success as it only reached a small part of those who should have had this training. The Four Acadamies closed in 2006.

Also, my blogs of 9/24/07, "Over Educated and Unemployed" and "District #150 - Continued Embarrassment to the City of Peoria", dated 4/21/08.

All of my "not politically correct" efforts have made me a lot of "friends?" at many levels of the system. Along with a large number of true friends.

The best local vocational school is at Pekin; it was when I visited five years ago. Other local schools such as Limestone and IVC have good programs or at least I hear they do. And, on 3/18/02, the JS reported "Some East Peoria School board members would prefer vocational courses over the Senior English Project". These board members realized that further formal education was not relevant to many of these kids futures.

How true. The situation at #150 is similar to an article in the 2/03/07 of the Economist that reads, "The run of the mill education suffer from problems that go back to a long time ago, namely poor basic skills' that includes many teachers, a tendency for kids to leave the minute they finish compulsory schooling (or sooner at approximately 50% of the kids that start school in Peoria Public Schools drop out by their senior year), and the lack of a coherent and valued system system of vocational training."

District #150 has made some positive steps in the direction of guiding non- college bound students (and those who are college bound but shouldn't be) but we aren't much ahead of what the JSEB said on 6/17/02, "Area failing to recruit, cultivate and train workers", continuing, "Topping the list is a K-12 public education system that leaves a lot to be desired."

That was 7 years ago. Will the JSEB still be writing the same editorial 7 years from now or will this community take the actions as recommended by myself and hundreds of others over the years?

We should expect some progress from an $160 million spent each year and growing, but as the Mayor of Peoria said, 2/3 rds of the "Peoria Promise" kids have to take remedial reading at ICC. Maybe they shouldn't be going to college but doing as many believe "the prerequisites for outstanding job performance are best learned while employed. On-the-job training coupled with concurrent education tailored to the specif fields are far more advantageous to success."

When the economy recovers, as the headline in the 8/16/08 WSJ says, "Where have all the welders gone"? will be most appropriate. One thing is sure, they won't be coming from District #150 at the rate we are going.

Good luck, "Eyebrows".

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