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

  • 04.28.16

    “My Frain is Bried”: Shadowing a Student

    "Welcome to our world." Educators take an entire school day to shadow a student and walk in their shoes. We find out how it went for one teacher.
  • 04.21.16

    High School Job Prep

    Want a job? So does every student ever! Maybe career and technical education classes are the way to go. Shaun Dougherty says you could be more likely to graduate and earn more if you do.
  • 04.14.16

    How Tutoring Helps Students

    Private tutoring is no longer just for the rich kids. Our guest tells us how the individual attention improves student learning and graduation rates.
  • 04.07.16

    Is Advanced Math Necessary?

    In our last episode, Andrew Hacker argued that math courses like algebra are unnecessary for most high schoolers. This week's guest couldn't disagree more.

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

  • 04.28.16

    “My Frain is Bried”: Shadowing a Student

    "Welcome to our world." Educators take an entire school day to shadow a student and walk in their shoes. We find out how it went for one teacher.
  • 04.21.16

    High School Job Prep

    Want a job? So does every student ever! Maybe career and technical education classes are the way to go. Shaun Dougherty says you could be more likely to graduate and earn more if you do.
  • 04.14.16

    How Tutoring Helps Students

    Private tutoring is no longer just for the rich kids. Our guest tells us how the individual attention improves student learning and graduation rates.
  • 04.07.16

    Is Advanced Math Necessary?

    In our last episode, Andrew Hacker argued that math courses like algebra are unnecessary for most high schoolers. This week's guest couldn't disagree more.


Adoption stories


This is Cristina's first school picture taken at Kensington Park Elementary School where she was attending Pre-K3. Cristina started Pre-K4 in August of 2005 at Canterbury Preschool at the University of Miami.

Ada Valdes
Miami, FL

Birth Country: CN
Decade of adoption: 2000 or later

I was born in Havana, Cuba and my great, great grandfather emigrated from Canton, China to Las Villas, Cuba. I came to the United States as a refugee from the Castro regime in the early 60s.

Three years ago, I traveled to China and adopted Yang Chun Ji (now Cristina Chun Ji Valdes) from Yangchun, Guangdong (Canton) China. Cristina is now four years old.

I am a single mother and my adoption was facilitated through a non-profit agency in Indiana named Families thru International Adoption. The process took 22 months in total and those 22 months were the hardest 22 months of my life. During the time I was waiting, there was talk that China was closing the doors to single parent adoptions. It is was speculated, but never really documented, that the Chinese government had discovered that many homosexuals in the United States were adopting from China because the laws in the United States did not allow them to. Because of this, I had to have friends and relatives write letters and I had to sign affidavits attesting to the fact that I was not a homosexual. My social worker had to include verbiage in my home study about my relationships with men and the reason why I never married.

Consequently, China has adopted quota for single parent adoptions and will only allow less than two percent of the adoptive population to be to single parents. They have raised the standard for single parents to be college educated and have a higher than average income. It is now very difficult for a single parent to adopt a child from China.

Fortunately, I have been approved and am currently in the process of adopting a second daughter.

The parent of some girls that came from the same orphanage in Yangchun, China maintain an internet e-list to keep our daughters in touch with each other. Last year we held a reunion in Williamsburg, VA and 100 girls, and their families, from all parts of the US, Canada and Europe attended. These girls ranged from as young as one and a half years to age nine. Our group was able to bring the orphanage director from China (accompanied by a party official) to attend the reunion. It was a wonderful experience to see all these girls, who had most probably been abandoned by families in search of a son, living the American lifestyle and definitely living an existence better than the boys they were given up for.

My daughter, Cristina, is growing up as a happy, dancing, multi-lingual Chinese Cuban American in Miami, FL. She loves her abuelo and abuela, her extended family of cousins, uncles and aunts, dim sum and frijoles negros, and Disney World. The American Dream came true for one of China's unwanted girls.



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

  • 04.28.16

    “My Frain is Bried”: Shadowing a Student

    "Welcome to our world." Educators take an entire school day to shadow a student and walk in their shoes. We find out how it went for one teacher.
  • 04.21.16

    High School Job Prep

    Want a job? So does every student ever! Maybe career and technical education classes are the way to go. Shaun Dougherty says you could be more likely to graduate and earn more if you do.
  • 04.14.16

    How Tutoring Helps Students

    Private tutoring is no longer just for the rich kids. Our guest tells us how the individual attention improves student learning and graduation rates.
  • 04.07.16

    Is Advanced Math Necessary?

    In our last episode, Andrew Hacker argued that math courses like algebra are unnecessary for most high schoolers. This week's guest couldn't disagree more.