Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Are You a Bocie?

In the town where I grew up, if you wanted to really insult someone, you didn't call them a dope, or a greaser, or a freak, or even a retard (although all of those would be construed as insults).

The ultimate insult: You're Bocies!

In high school, I knew that the kids who went to vocational training, at a centralized location, to become auto mechanics, or beauticians, went to the BOCES location. And I'm sure you see where this is going. It wasn't until after high school that I made the connection between the epithet, and the Board Of Cooperative Educational Services.

Which just goes to show you, that in some communities (and I admit to growing up in a middle/upper-middle/upper class community), career/vocational/technical education has had a bad rap for a long time. Which, I should say, I don't necessarily think it deserves.

It's true that in some communities vocational classes are used for tracking (at my high school, most of the kids who went to BOCES did not do well in school, and came from working-class Italian Catholic backgrounds).
It's true that on average, college graduates make more money.
And it's true that a lot of community colleges now offer some of those "vocational" tracks, but with the advantage of a 2-year degree.

On the other hand:
If we believe in the idea of multiple forms of intelligence, we should expect that some kids will do better in this format.
Some jobs don't really need an advanced degree.
Some kids need to start making money right away, even if they do go on to college.

So: I think options are good, and I feel queasy when I see vocational programs being considered for the chopping block.
Which is why I was somewhat interested to see, on the AAPS web site, a follow-up survey for students from the Career and Technical Education department. It asks if you are the "student" or a "proxy." (Not being either, I didn't go any further.) If it applies to you, I encourage you to fill this out. I'd like to see them survey the rest of us, too.


  1. Wow, singling out Italian American Catholics..yikes it really is the wonder Ann Arbor was disliked by the rest of the state. What a small strange view of the world. It says so much about the town..

  2. Just to clarify--I was writing about the town where I grew up, which is on the East Coast.

  3. Worse yet, so did I. I grew up in a heavily Irish and Italian neighborhood and there was no corner on the market for vocational school for any particular ethnicity..