Part of the reason for the decline in shop classes has been the stigma associated with shop classes. The stigma has gotten so negative that some shop teachers don't even like being called, just that, shop teachers. There are many causes of the stigma. In this post I'll focus on one.
One of the consequences of the decline in shop classes is that restarting programs is a tough investment. Part of the challenge is changing the culture that shop class is not just a "dumping ground" where you can send your "just screw it together" projects for some kid "whose not doing anything anyway" to do.
The culture is so ingrained, I've heard tradesmen advising their own children even, "Don't take shop class, it's just a waste of time. You'll learn bad habits."
And that attitude is somewhat justified. In many areas, there has been a history of bad working environments with poor teachers in the school shop. Teachers that don't know the meaning of craftsmanship and/or professionalism. A skilled parent could easily fear the learning of bad habits.
Under those circumstances, it's hard to get people to invest. Reversing the culture of the "good enough - just a dumping ground" mentality that is so hard-set in some students, parents, and administrators feels like taking a swim wearing waders full of water. The downward spiral has started.
It's sad to say, but I've come to think that some shop teachers are the biggest threat. I hold many of them partially accountable for the decline.As a shop teacher you are either constantly fighting the stigma, or feeding the stigma. If you're fighting the stigma, students, parents, administrators included, keep it up!
I want to note to my local readers this is not a reflection of any specific situation, more so a collection of observations from a vast number of experiences throughout my career as both student and teacher. I'm happy to say I get to network, collaborate, and work with many professional teachers who value craftsmanship.