More vocational education classes should be offered in West Virginia public schools, a freshman member of the state House of Delegates from Marshall County suggested to our reporter a few days ago. Then, by pure coincidence, new state school Superintendent James Phares echoed the comment.
David Evans, who taught at Cameron High School for 33 years, was elected to the House last fall. The Republican will join incumbent Mike Ferro, a Democrat, in representing Marshall County.
In discussing his priorities with our reporter, Evans said public school reform will be high on his agenda.
One specific area of concern is vocational and technical education classes, he said. "A lot of kids are not made for college, but everyone is being pushed toward college," Evans said.
On Tuesday, Phares outlined his plans for legislators. At the very top of his priority list is improving career and technical education, he stressed. Such classes should begin in middle schools, Phares added.
Evans and Phares - and the many other legislators we believe agree with them - are right.
A substantial number of students in public schools can't wait to reach 16 years of age, when they can drop out legally, because they do not believe the coursework is relevant to them. College-preparatory classes are seen by some as a waste of time.
Some careers, including coal mining and gas and oil industry jobs, pay very well - more, indeed, than some professions requiring college degrees. Some students want the vocational education that will allow them to enter such fields or be ready to go on to one- or two-year training after high school.
Programs for potential miners and drilling industry workers already are being offered in some Northern Panhandle school districts. But more, in those fields and others, needs to be part of a well-rounded vocational-technical education system. Evans and Phares are right to view that as a priority.