Friday, April 20, 2012

I was appalled when I saw several articles in the Boston and New York papers and an article by Steve Marino of about POTUS' plan to cut ANOTHER 20% from the vocational education budget while increasing the Education budget another 11% to $51 billion, less than 2% of the budget goes to vocational program. In 1975 the education department budget was $17 billion, has education really improved?   And the President wants to cut it another 20% in 2012!  While raising spending on education 11%, how many unskilled people can the economy absorb?  Less than a third of all students actually go to and complete college.  The unskilled rely on their youth and brawn to get jobs, and most of these unskilled jobs have gone away with the economic downturn, primarily in construction.
Not everyone needs or wants a college education, why can't our government and educational system see this?
Plus, there has been an all out attack on for profit schools that do turn out skilled workers.  Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater just because of a few opportunists.  It needs to be back in the public school system.  Screw the liability issues, the labeling of students as non-college material, heck 2/3's of them are already, lets start building skills again so our youth is employable beyond saying: "Would you like fries with that?"
Hello, my name is Steven Burhoe, I hold a bachelors in Animal Science, and a masters and doctorate in Practical Arts & Vocational Technical Education with a certification to teach Vocational Agriculture.  I taught middle and high school agriculture in the mid-70's from 1975 to 1979 in Fauquier County, Virginia.
Then I spent the next 30 years in a variety of private sector jobs training cooperative employees in the Midwest, editing publications for Doane, and consulting with businesses around the world.  It wasn't until my children entered middle school around 2005 that I realized the agricultural programs that I once knew had been emasculated by the "college bound" educational mentality.
No longer were they teaching the hands on approach to running a farm or ranch, which included welding, forge work, wood working, construction, tractor mechanics and hydraulics, great skills all, but they were teaching them "on the computer".  Anyone that has cut through a multi-pass weld project to check penetration or built a toolbox in woodshop, knows that it takes the hands on skills to get it right.
Now the businesses that once took our graduates with a well rounded skill set are crying that there are very few young people willing to do skilled labor.  Its because the schools are college tracking EVERYONE which also means they don't have any technical SKILLS!  Everyone wants to be the boss and no one wants to be the worker (next time you pass a state project see how many people actually have a shovel and how many are telling the ONE worker how to do the job).
Where did we go wrong?  If you looked at the Department of Education in the 1970's their main job was to provide support for vocational training programs, and that was a small amount at 10% of the cost of a local program.  Today they have cut the vocational budget severely and spend billions of dollars on college bound, unemployable young adults.  The college debt crisis is next now that it has exceeded the personal debt and mortgage debt combined in the US.  Last year a million new college students were added to the debt train, when will the light at the end of the tunnel turn in to another train?