VIEWPOINT: No child left behind -- except at EHOVE

For 131 area high school sophomores, there will be no room at the inn come September. EHOVE Joint Vocational School h
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


For 131 area high school sophomores, there will be no room at the inn come September.

EHOVE Joint Vocational School has notified area high schools that of the 586 teens who applied for admission to the school, only 455 have been accepted for next year’s programs.

Guidance counselors at the school say there are specific reasons some students are rejected by EHOVE:  discipline problems; academic problems, which would make it difficult to graduate from high school with the required credits; and in some instances, the program has been filled and there are no open seats for applicants.

Counselors say there are remedial summer programs students can attend to fulfill the required credit hours and that then admission will be considered.  They also say those students who meet EHOVE standards, but who are rejected because the program is filled, are placed on waiting lists and might still be able to attend classes in September.

According to high school principals, the application process which allows EHOVE to turn down students seeking admission to vocational programs has been in practice for at least 10 years.

That EHOVE can turn students away from its doors is news to the average person, especially in light of the fact that the bulk of its funding comes from property taxes.

It doesn’t seem right.

But the problem is not unique to EHOVE.  Joint vocational schools throughout the state are now considered “career centers”.  The emphasis is changing from post high school employment to technical training leading to post secondary education.

Vocational education in the United States dates back to Colonial America when children without academic opportunities were offered apprenticeships for on the job training.

Over the centuries the evolution of vocational education has taken many turns.  In the 1880s industrial training became prevalent and during the early 1900s the federal government saw the need to provided industrial education in urban areas and agricultural education in the rural areas.  The government defined vocational education as training to help nonacademic students obtain jobs after high school.

In 1963 the federal Vocational Education Act provided for the construction of vocational education school buildings and broadened the definition of vocational education to include occupational programs.

School-to-work became the theme in the 1980s for those students not interested in higher education, but vocational education also started transitioning into links with academic education including secondary and post secondary schools.

Today, vocational schools define themselves as career centers.  Advances in technology; the opportunities for jobs in technical fields; the decline of the industrial base; and the limited number of industrial jobs are all factors that have contributed to the change.

Logically, on one hand, it makes sense for vocational schools to transition into career centers.

But on the other hand, there are still 131 teens in Erie, Huron and Ottawa counties who are being told, “Forget the future, there is no future here for you at EHOVE.”

What happens to these kids?  If the programs in traditional high schools are inadequate, and if the kids are not college bound, and if there is no place for them at EHOVE, what is the alternative?  And, how did this happen right underneath our noses without public awareness?

This is very hard to accept.  At a place in time when we like to believe that no child will be left behind, we are leaving children behind.  Voters in the school districts serviced by EHOVE have, in good faith, continued to approve levies for funding the joint vocational school for 40 years.  But the truth is out now.  Now we find some of our kids aren’t good enough for EHOVE and that the “Iron Fist” of EHOVE can accept or reject any kid it feels doesn’t measure up to the school’s standards.

It’s a dirty, rotten shame!

Area superintendents and area high school principals are reluctant to talk about the problem.  It is an issue they say they have discussed in state-wide meetings, but, they say, the state hasn’t listened to their concerns.

Some state officials had better start to listen.  Maybe it is time for the electorate to join with school officials to add strength to the cause.