Education: He That Hath a Trade

Posted throughout Dunbar Vocational High School are cards bearing a Ben Franklin motto: "He that hath a trade hath an estate." The exhortation is hardly needed at the rambling tan brick school on Chicago's squalid South Side. To its 2,300 youngsters, 99% of them Negro, Dunbar is a life raft in a sea of poverty. It is perhaps the most effective vocational school in the U.S.

Dunbar's importance lies in harsh statistics: 30% of U.S. high school students never graduate; the rate hits 50% in some blighted urban areas. As automation invades new fields,...

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