American RadioWorks |
A student learns welding at a vocational high school in Massachusetts. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Ready to Work

Vocational education was once a staple of American schooling, preparing some kids for blue-collar futures while others were put on a path to college. Today the new mantra is "college for all." But not everyone wants to go to college, and more than half of jobs don't require a bachelor's degree. Many experts say it's time to bring back career and technical education. This American RadioWorks documentary explores how vocational education is being reimagined.

Recent Posts

  • 09.11.14

    A 21st-century vocational high school

    For years, vocational education was seen as a lesser form of schooling, tracking some kids into programs that ended up limiting their future opportunities. Today, in the nation's best vocational programs, things are different.
  • 09.10.14

    Career academies: A new twist on vocational ed

    Across the country, thousands of high schools are transforming into career academies. The idea is that students will be more engaged if they see how academics are connected to the world of work. And they’ll be more likely to get the postsecondary schooling they need to support themselves in today’s economy.
  • 09.09.14

    The troubled history of vocational education

    Vocational education was once used to track low-income students off to work while wealthier kids went to college. But advocates for today's career and technical education say things have changed, and graduates of vocational programs may have the advantage over graduates of traditional high schools.
  • 09.04.14

    Four-year institutions brace for population shifts

    Colleges and universities are accepting many more students of color, many more students from working class and poor families, and many more people who are sometimes referred to as "nontraditional" students.

American RadioWorks |
A student learns welding at a vocational high school in Massachusetts. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Ready to Work

Vocational education was once a staple of American schooling, preparing some kids for blue-collar futures while others were put on a path to college. Today the new mantra is "college for all." But not everyone wants to go to college, and more than half of jobs don't require a bachelor's degree. Many experts say it's time to bring back career and technical education. This American RadioWorks documentary explores how vocational education is being reimagined.

Recent Posts

  • 09.11.14

    A 21st-century vocational high school

    For years, vocational education was seen as a lesser form of schooling, tracking some kids into programs that ended up limiting their future opportunities. Today, in the nation's best vocational programs, things are different.
  • 09.10.14

    Career academies: A new twist on vocational ed

    Across the country, thousands of high schools are transforming into career academies. The idea is that students will be more engaged if they see how academics are connected to the world of work. And they’ll be more likely to get the postsecondary schooling they need to support themselves in today’s economy.
  • 09.09.14

    The troubled history of vocational education

    Vocational education was once used to track low-income students off to work while wealthier kids went to college. But advocates for today's career and technical education say things have changed, and graduates of vocational programs may have the advantage over graduates of traditional high schools.
  • 09.04.14

    Four-year institutions brace for population shifts

    Colleges and universities are accepting many more students of color, many more students from working class and poor families, and many more people who are sometimes referred to as "nontraditional" students.


Adoption stories


Presentation ceremony of Nicolas. July 6, 2004. Bogota, Colombia.

Erin Conroy
Moorhead, MN

Birth Country: Colombia
Decade of adoption: 2000 or later

Our son Nicolas (named by his birth mother) was adopted from Colombia in 2004 as a special-needs adoption. My husband is deaf, and we sought to adopt a deaf child. Working through Lutheran Social Service, we originally wanted to adopt from China because of the stability of the China program. However, almost immediately after our submission to the adoption program at LSS, I received an email from our social worker asking us if we would be interested in adopting a deaf boy named Nicolas from Colombia.

When we were children, my sister had always wanted a boy and she was going to name him Nicolas. During both her pregnancies, she had chosen Nicolas as boys' names. Both pregnancies turned out to be girls.

The first person I contacted about Nicolas was my sister. (Not my husband, oops.) I told her of the deaf two-month-old baby in Colombia. She hesitated for a long time before sadly asking, "Erin, are you sure you want to do this? I thought you wanted a girl from China?"

I replied, "His name is Nicolas."

And she said, "That's your baby."

I returned the email to our social worker exclaiming, "Yes!" Only as an afterthought, I emailed my husband and told him of the possibility.

We flew to Colombia on July 5, 2004 to collect Nicolas. We stayed for approximately six weeks and came home August 12, 2004.

Adopting is a soul-searching, oftentimes gut-wrenching process. Parents often grieve for the loss of a biological child, myself included. In hindsight, I wouldn't change anything. The emotional, spiritual and social growth I have experienced as an adoptive parent is something I would never have had if I had only biological children.

I still grieve now, mostly for Nicolas' birth mother. The most surprising aspect of the adoption process for me was the amount of loss I feel for Nicolas' birth mother. I think of her on a daily basis. I hope and pray she has peace with her decision. She has given us the opportunity to be a family. I can never repay her.



Back to Adoption Stories


American RadioWorks |
A student learns welding at a vocational high school in Massachusetts. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Ready to Work

Vocational education was once a staple of American schooling, preparing some kids for blue-collar futures while others were put on a path to college. Today the new mantra is "college for all." But not everyone wants to go to college, and more than half of jobs don't require a bachelor's degree. Many experts say it's time to bring back career and technical education. This American RadioWorks documentary explores how vocational education is being reimagined.

Recent Posts

  • 09.11.14

    A 21st-century vocational high school

    For years, vocational education was seen as a lesser form of schooling, tracking some kids into programs that ended up limiting their future opportunities. Today, in the nation's best vocational programs, things are different.
  • 09.10.14

    Career academies: A new twist on vocational ed

    Across the country, thousands of high schools are transforming into career academies. The idea is that students will be more engaged if they see how academics are connected to the world of work. And they’ll be more likely to get the postsecondary schooling they need to support themselves in today’s economy.
  • 09.09.14

    The troubled history of vocational education

    Vocational education was once used to track low-income students off to work while wealthier kids went to college. But advocates for today's career and technical education say things have changed, and graduates of vocational programs may have the advantage over graduates of traditional high schools.
  • 09.04.14

    Four-year institutions brace for population shifts

    Colleges and universities are accepting many more students of color, many more students from working class and poor families, and many more people who are sometimes referred to as "nontraditional" students.