Thursday, June 29, 2006

Teach a man to fish...

Remember the old adage of feeding a man a fish for one meal, versus teaching him to fish and he feeding himself for a lifetime?


If GCCISD would promote the Vocational-Technical agenda of old instead of a general knowledge prepare-kids-for-conventional-college-type high school, wouldn’t there be more people exiting high school with above minimum wage skills?


Most high school students never complete their first semester of college. Why don't we help them early on, to enter the work force with skills that pay much more than minimum wage?


Baytown is in the process of building another High School and we have a smaller VoTech school, the Stuart Career Center, but it is not viewed as a primary option. This school is almost invisible to average Baytownians. If you ask around, folks will tell you we have 2 high schools period.


I suggest we take a hard look at pushing general knowledge (diploma) students with certificates of trade AND a high school diploma. An exiting student would have an actual trade when they graduate, which they could augment at Lee College for a full degree. This could start as early as the 9th grade and all the classes they need would be located at one school.


Baytown could become famous for graduating people who go into young adulthood with success and actual marketable trade skills. Many times a young person exits high school prematurely and finds the job market is dismal to say the least. This sets up a couple of options. One, work for minimum wage and this becomes their life. Two, pursue a life of crime. Three hang out. Four, join the military. Five, live off the government.


As a process operator of 30 years I am shocked at how few craftsmen are available without extensive on-the-job training. When my Plant has an extended turnaround, or new construction we have the hardest time finding craftsmen. What we get are boiler-makers. People hire in on turn-arounds as ‘boiler-makers’ that are not the true craftsmen that the title implies.


In this day and age we have a huge blooming population of young people whose only skill is video game related. Ask the average 18 year old boy to point out the alternator on their new car and they’ll stare at you with a blank look. My Dad could disassemble a car motor at 18 and at 18 I had half that knowledge.


A VoTech Mecca is what this city could become for young people and it’s time the City of Baytown began working to make it a reality.

“Oh! You were trained in the Baytown VoTech? Come in, we’ve been searching for someone with your skills”

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