In a smaller nationwide survey ("What Do People Think of Us?" 1997), respondents split exactly 50-50 on the big question of whether or not vocational education was for high school students who didn't plan to go to college. However, respondents had overwhelmingly positive reactions to smaller, individual questions about vocational education: 76 percent said that all students would benefit from vocational education. 90 percent agreed or strongly agreed that vocational education prepared students for good-paying jobs. 92 percent agreed or strongly agreed that vocational education can lead students to go to college. Only 4 percent agreed that vocational education led to low-skill jobs. 98 percent said that internships or apprenticeships in different career fields were appropriate for high school juniors and seniors. 90 percent said that real work-based problems or career-related projects were a good way to teach subjects like math and English. These survey results present a curious contradiction. Many people-but not all-have a negative overall image of vocational education, probably based at least in part on mistaken assumptions about how today's labor market actually works. Yet the great majority of people have a very positive reaction to the elements that are the very foundation of vocational education: a focus on career preparation; knowledge and skills that are relevant for the job market; the possibility of challenging careers, good-paying jobs, and college. Such favorable attitudes toward the foundation elements of vocational education may represent a new trend for the new millennium.
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