The State’s Vocational Education Problem

Massachusetts is widely lauded for its world-class universities, competitive public school rankings, and top-notch private high schools. But there’s another school system that’s locked up in a decades-old conflict affecting thousands of students: vocational education

Photo by Miriam Wasser

Photo by Miriam Wasser

In 2008, Ed Bouquillon, then the new superintendent of Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School, noticed something odd: dozens of 8th graders who wanted to attend his school weren’t allowed to apply. In Massachusetts, before prospective students can submit applications to Minuteman—or any other vocational school, for that matter—they need their hometown superintendent’s approval. Students are rarely denied, and if they are, it’s usually because they live in a town that already offers the exact program they hope to study.

Minuteman Tech could be called the Harvard of vocational high schools. Last September, American RadioWorks produced a four-part documentary that spotlighted it as the example of a 21st-century vocational school. The school is located in Lexington, but serves as the district vocational school for 16 suburban towns in Middlesex County. Of the 700 or so students who enroll at Minuteman every year, historically about half have come from out-of-district communities.

The 8th graders who weren’t allowed to apply to Minuteman were all from out-of-district, but, Bouquillon reasoned, it wasn’t like they lived on the other side of the state. They were mostly from Medford, Somerville, and Waltham, towns that have always sent quite a few students to Minuteman. As far as Bouquillon could tell, there was no obvious reason these kids should be prohibited from applying…. Continue reading at Boston Magazine


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