POLL: For low-income families, is vocational training better than a college education?

Oct. 15, 2012, 4:49 p.m.

Poor parents are more likely to encourage their children to pursue vocational training than the more tradition route of a college education, says new research. (Shawn McCullough/Flickr Creative Commons)

The poorer parents are, the less likely they are to encourage their children to finish high school.

New research featured in the Melbourne Institute's Working Paper Series 2012 found that only 60 percent of kids with low socioeconomic status finish high school, compared to 90 percent of their more affluent counterparts.

Lead researcher Dr. Cain Polidano said the parents' attitude plays a critical role.

"Differences in the education aspirations of parents are probably the most important factor explaining the gap in school completion," he said in a statement.

In other words, what the parents hope for their kids is a big part of this – and researchers found that only 58 percent of low-income kids believe their parents want them to graduate from high school.

Not having a lot of money is a powerful reality check, and it seems a lot of poorer parents agree – rather than have their kids go to college, most preferred that they get some sort of vocational training. And, Polidano added, since most vocational training courses don't have an educational requirement, parents aren't too concerned about whether their children get their diploma before enrolling.

Researchers did find that encouragement from good teachers could play a role in keeping their students in school, but said more needs to be done to "reduce inequality of opportunity."

South Los Angeles knows about high-school dropouts – the majority (nearly 53 percent) of its residents who are 25 or older have less than a high school education, according to the Los Angeles Times' Mapping L.A. project.

That's more than 203,000 people.

The areas with the three highest drop-out rates in Los Angeles County are all in South Central, too: Central-Alameda, Historic South-Central and Florence-Firestone.

Not coincidentally, most households in the area make less than $20,000 annually.

Photo by Shawn McCullough via Flickr Creative Commons.

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