What happened to Minnesota's technical high schools?

I’ve written about at least one complaint by Minnesota industry execs that recruiting technically trained students is difficult, because too many high schools long ago ditched their shop classes.

The Star Tribune looks into one angle of that — specifically, the dwindling number of career- and technical high schools. it reports that the rising cost of college has prompted high school students to take career and technical classes “at an unprecedented rate” — even though the number of programs has declined dramatically.

Here’s a short section on what got us to this point:

Minnesota’s career and technical education program hit its peak in the 1970s when there were more than 70 career and technical centers for high school students. They were stocked with the latest equipment and dozens of nationally certified programs, Smith said.

In the 1980s, high schools began to be seen as a place to prepare students for a liberal arts four-year degree, emphasizing reading, writing and arithmetic rather than skills for a job.

About a decade ago state legislators, in an effort to save money, ended their career and technical education aid and placed the burden on taxpayers through an optional levy. Other sources of funding have remained flat.

And there’s the pressure of No Child Left Behind, which places the academic over the technical, the paper writes.

Now, it reports:

Today, there are just five career and technical high schools left statewide.

Read the full story here.