What the heck is Occupational Ed?

Email of the Day:
I am a current homeschooling mother researching Washington Laws in preparation for relocating my family to Spokane. I read your law information and I am wondering about the 11 required subjects. I am assuming it is a matter of state terminology, but what is meant by “occupational education?” I have a BSed and I have never heard that term in relation to a school subject. I will admit my background is early childhood and I may be ignorant of more advanced studies.

This is the number one question I get on the 11 subjects!
Do you remember the day in 3rd or 4th grade when the firefighter parent, police office parent, and doctor parent came to talk to your class? That’s occupational education: there are people in the world; they have jobs.

The state board of education defines it, in part, thusly, ” Occupational Education classes (usually, but not always, Career and Technical Education (C TE) classes) give students a chance to sample instructional programs within areas of their interest and particular career pathways of their choice. CTE classes include agriculture, business, technology, cosmetology, health, and more (Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board). ” [Emphasis mine].

In our home, we feel our daughter’s computer usage, carpentry and farming and sawyering, music lessons (as she does not want to be a builder or a farmer, but rather a songwriter), permaculture design course, strawbale building course, training at the fire department (including things like CPR and first aid), all count toward her occupational education. When she was younger, I would have pointed toward her mini-internships with a florist and a caterer, a weaver and a spinner, her projects fencing, building tree forts, animal care, cooking, and learning the keyboard, etc. When she was a really wee one, our trips to farms, grocery store tour, candy maker’s tour, fire department tour, police station tour, fieldtrips to the courts and the gravel pit, etc. — things having to do with jobs of all sorts – these all count. (Looking at that list, I can’t help but think, “Wow! Look at all the occupational education she would have missed out on if she were stuck at school!”).

Here’s some ideas:

Library Power/Water Company

Fire Station Train Yard/ Refueling Depot

Landmarks Bakery

Restaurant Tour Winery

Skate Park Newspaper (journalist office and printing)

Grand Coulee Dam Theatre (and Cinema)

Mt. St. Helen Walking Tour of Public Art

Zoo Police Station

Orchard/ Farm Tour Jail

Local Manufacturer Asphalt Plant / Quarry

Sewage Treatment Plant

Grocery Store

Candy Shoppe

Seed Plant/ Grass Farm


Hollar if you have further questions, and hollar once you get to Spokane (I live just east of it in Newman Lake).
–Jen Garrison Stuber, WHO Board Advocacy Chair