Fund ways for students to pursue trades

Posted: Monday, May 01, 2006

Our staggering school dropout rate is the result of the misguided premise, and implementation of that premise from the top right on down, that every student going through the system is college bound. This premise is simply false. We have turned the words "carpenter," "mechanic," "bricklayer," "plumber," "electrician" and "proficient laborer" into dirty words in our school district and our society.

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I sat on the first new high school planning team nearly 10 years ago, giving up nearly a week's work. When I repeatedly asked why no design considerations were being made for a wood shop, a metal shop or similar trade training, I was repeatedly ignored. Taking my request to the current principal, I was informed it was a liability and insurance issue. Horsepuckey. When you attempt to cram round blue-collar, trade-bound students into square white-collar, academic holes you end up with the dropout rates you have. Try honoring their dignity and their idea of what it means to "succeed" by providing them the tools to be successful along with the encouragement to pursue trade careers.

If liability costs have increased over the years perhaps some of the staggering computer and networking support budgets can be paired back a bit to pay the premiums. Our kids are worth it.

Robert Tonkin


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