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Teach a man to fish...

EDITOR’S NOTE: When Bert Marshall wrote this column in 2006, it fell on deaf ears. Not a single comment.  All folks wanted to talk about was the downgrading of the football programs at RSS and REL because the new school (Goose Creek Memorial) was pulling students from RSS, or the new football uniforms and mascot. Now we are two years behind on preparing young people to enter the labor force. The issue remains important.

Originally published 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”


Anonymous said…
Good article and I have to agree with you.

The district has been working hard to improve and expand our CTE programs. It is one of the things the board is committed to and there are some noteworthy things to point out. Our welding program now is being taught by a teacher who comes from that industry and is teaching the NCCER certification, additionally our body shop has brought in updated tools and equipment to help the kids with current industry standards. Our auto mechanics program will have a new diesel program to accommodate the need for diesel mechanics in this area.

I could go on for awhile about the improvements in our programs, but I don't want to overwhelm the comments field.
Just know CTE is one of the things I ran on and will continue to stay diligent to see that our kids are ready to enter college or the workforce.

Daniel Blackford
Anonymous said…
I read this column a couple of years ago when I went cruising through your archives. I thought it was valid then and even more so today. Kids are coming from high school with little or no life skills, much less job skills applicable to their area and region. Having the fastest thumb in school won't get you far at the bank. SW
Anonymous said…
They have an early high school program that attends classes at the college. As I understand it, graduates will leave high school with an AA or AS. I think it is a great program, and the students I see at the gym I enjoy having around. Whether or not an administration is consciously using it as a promo for future programs of the like, if all is and continues well, it and others like it could surely serve as such. JE
Anonymous said…
This is sooooo true!!! LH
Anonymous said…
The education system is a joke. I dropped out when I was in the 3rd grade. I educated myself, grew a beard, and now I'm a Windows/Linux SysAdmin. True Story. AEG
Anonymous said…
You are so right! It is a crime that our society today ONLY pushes for all kids to go to college. We need to re-establish the importance of skilled tradesman. You cannot have a successful society without the people who can build and repair everything in that society. Knowing what a hammer and nail is does not make one a carpenter! So many people do not do well with the general education system. They need to work with their hands and minds. I personally feel like college is just pushed on everybody to put more money in somebody's pocket. In my experience, college educated people are not necessarily better employees. Having a degree does not automatically make you a great worker or successful. (just ask the millions of grads that are making barely minimum wage yet owe over $100thousand in loans). In general, our public education system is failing us.
Rachel said…
The problem isnt so much trying to send em all to college. Its the standardized testing that is pushing kids to the breaking point!! The test are for profit and do very little for the student themselves. End these standardized testing, let teachers teach and let kids learn!! I opted my 6th grader out of STAAR and am homeschooling my other children. Public schools are becoming a place to learn how to take a test and that is it. Many teachers, parents, and children are fed up with this.

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