This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
During his run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, State Sen. Scott Wagner did a telephone town hall on education. Midway through, a caller named Ann from Pittsburgh asked him why more Pennsylvania students aren’t going to trade schools.
That might be a throw-away question for most politicians — ideologically distant from the larger education debates over funding and school choice — but Wagner got excited.
“Ann, you are now in my wheelhouse,” he said.
For the next five minutes, Wagner spoke about his own experience as a college dropout who went on to run a series of lucrative businesses. He talked about the need for schooling options that better prepare kids for the job markets. He wants teachers to be talking to kids as young as 4th grade about their career goals. And he thinks Pennsylvania schools should focus more on “industrial arts” and other career and technical training.
“There’s nothing wrong with being a truck driver or mechanic or welder,” he told the caller.