Friday, April 20, 2012

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?

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