Massage, News, Secular Culture Wars

The morality of a Voc-Tech education


I know why my father bothered to make a buck in adult education when I was a small child but why did I bother with assisting the start-up of a Professional Massage Program at the community college level?

Nine years later I am still asking myself that question.

It sounds like the kind of question that I expect a prospective future employer to ask me. And yet I don’t list the experience on my resume.

I was losing my green streak so to speak. At the then ripe age of twenty-seven, I had already spent roughly four years working for Corporate owned and operated Resort Spas and I knew that without a four-year degree or at the very least, a second certificate in another discipline, and depending on whom you speak with perhaps both, I had already topped out in the world of International Resorts.

So when I spotted an ad in the local paper I interviewed and stayed with it for three months. In the end, the students wanted and Needed, someone with a more complete grasp of A&P than I had as a primary Spa Therapist. In short summary, the college let me go with a few shreds of dignity intact. I can pass my exams with better than average success but teaching the nuts and bolts of anatomy showed my weaker side. Some of the students thought I got an unduly harsh review from their peers but I bowed out with as much grace as I could muster given that I wanted the program to succeed. The students that defended me also had family in education. Touch changes people and in Alabama, social change is often considered a form of Marxism in many communities. No matter how capitalist the enterprise. And in 2002, the climate in Alabama did not favor massage therapy being taught in the public sphere funded by the public’s dime.

I was going to ‘show’ my friends and family that I was a Professional when in actuality, I really wanted a four-year degree for myself. So after ‘The Great Humbling,’ I tried independent contracting and working for Chiropractors and small Day Spas which I resented actually. I hate small Day Spas. They often have no showers, no steam rooms, no saunas, no amenities. There is no music piped in and you have to make do with a portable CD player. There are no electric massage tables that raise and lower at the gentle touch of a foot pad. You have to move the table manually. There is no in-house laundry service. You wash your own dirty linen. There is no security staff watching you come and go at the start and end of each shift. Hence, there is noone to call if a guest is too big for his or believe it or not, her britches and expects some sort of  sexual gratification.

But all of this comes to mind when I read articles such as the following on Vocational Education from the Chronicle.

The comments from so called ‘educators’ make me cringe. But I know the stereotypes. I could not have been a cheerleader and attended a high school vocational program in the same year. (I stopped cheering my senior year and did HOSA, a vocational program for students interested in Health Occupations.) The arguments are tired and stale. Vocational Education has to prove it’s worth by graduating students to keep it’s ‘Federal Funding.’ And yet, people still equate the public education system with a kind of modernized nightmare.

According to The Chronicle for Higher Education “Congress approved a budget bill that cut roughly $138-million from the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, including the elimination of the Tech-Prep program and $35-million in reductions to state career- and technical-education grants. He told the large crowd to expect more cuts in the Perkins Act for the 2012 fiscal year.”

“Career- and technical-education programs serve a variety of learners, including high school students and prison inmates. Programs may be housed at community colleges, technology centers, and high schools. There are more than 15 million secondary and postsecondary career- and technical-education students in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

President Obama has urged every American to get at least a year of higher education or postsecondary career training. In effect, Mr. Duncan said, the president wants every American to earn a minimum of two pieces of paper—a high-school diploma, and a degree or industry-recognized certification.”

When I consider that the article suggests that the Obama administration is suggesting it’s statistics show that Voc-Tech programs are under-performing, coupled with the requisite that schools must show improvement or see a reduction in available money, I can’t help but consider the new budget cuts lauded by the GOP. I don’t feel bad about No Child Left Behind considering I left rather than allow the program to fall below my fellow educators and students ideal standards. But it’s the budget cuts that in and of itself says something about the rhetoric exploding across the country regarding the state of the economy, the so called ‘economic downturn/recovery’ and partisan politics with their relationship to how we are gauging the said recovery that really rankles me.

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