Group pushes for reform to vocational school admissions

Activists gathered in a Zoom meeting March 18 to address discrimination within the state’s regional vocational school admissions process, which uses a ranking system to admit student bodies that are mostly white, English-language speakers.

The group is calling on Gov. Charlie Baker, Education Commissioner Jeff Riley and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to implement a lottery system instead.

“Vocational schools are public schools, but they are allowed to admit students by ranking them; ranking them by their grades, attendance, discipline and guidance counselors’ recommendations,” said Jack Livramento, a member of the United Interfaith Action of New Bedford and Fall River and Massachusetts Communities Action Network. “All these factors have been found to be discriminatory, and together they violate both state and federal laws.”

Business owners, teachers and advocates pushed for reform during the Zoom event, which was hosted by the Vocational Education Justice Coalition. A Feb. 22


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