HISD: Some Vocational Classes Cut, Others Improved

Twenty years ago, when high school students needed to call their parents from school, they had to go to a pay phone. So many things have changed over the years. Now, even vocational classes like home economics or auto shop have changed.  Some classes are being improved while others are being eliminated all together.

An HISD Student can learn to make a precision cut in woodshop. But unfortunately at some schools, it's the class itself that has been cut. HISD says some programs were eliminated last year when the district lost $80 million dollars in funding.

This year some principals are still having to make cuts due to declining enrollment. Durrel Douglas of the Texas Organizing Project understands these are tough times, but believes teachers and especially vocational teachers shouldn't be the first to go.

"That's not the answer, right? When you say budget cuts, when you start saying you're going to cut teaching positions, if that is the essential function of HISD to teach our future, why is it the first place that you go to cut?"

HISD's Jason Spencer has a different take on what's going on. He says not only is HISD committed to giving students vocational skills, the district just two months ago approved career training programs at six different high schools. It's a partnership with Houston Community College.

"These are not the same kind of career and technical education programs that existed in high school a generation ago. These programs are preparing highly skilled graduates to compete for good paying jobs."

"They will graduate prepared to either immediately enter the workforce, earning a nice salary, or to go on to college, with having already achieved an associate's degree in their back pocket."

The new programs are the School of Electronic Engineering at Furr High School and the School for Process Technology at Kashmere High.

Spencer says any student can attend the new programs regardless of where they live.