SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


School budget process
By Charles Edwardson


March 25, 2008
Tuesday PM

I am afraid this letter will be too late for the budget comment period for the district on March 26, 2008, never the less I urge the people who have time to participate in this process to express your opinions.

I would attend the meeting but it is the first night of the new Ketchikan Construction Academy at the University Of Alaska Ketchikan campus, and I am the instructor this time around. I have taught construction tech at the university several times and many of the students were recent graduates of Ketchikan High School.

What the " h" heck does this have to do with the budget process and ACTIVITIES?? I will try to make the connection as quickly as I can the students that attended my class were alarmingly deficient in the basic fundamental skills that would be expected from a high school kid at least in my day. They had little or no concept of the skills many of them will need in their adult life, as many of them will be in a trade oriented career. Without a vocational training culture in our school systems we have desensitized a whole generation of kids to the need to simply know how to read a tape measurer and operate tools, or even know what a tool is used for.

Again how the heck does this relate to activities? In the late eighties, early nineties vocational training was beginning to be phased out of our schools. The thought was in the 'DOT COM" era that everyone was going to be involved in the computer industry (this is speculation of course). Really it was just bad judgment and political posturing that eliminated vocational training and the No Child Left Behind Act does did not help much either. So with so much focus is on entry exams we lost focus on what our kids would actually be "entering" into. We come to find out now decades too late that it's the trades we did not teach, that has the most demand for workers. My point is we did not think out the long term effects of eliminating those vocational programs.

ACTIVITIES - finally my point. Activities keep kids in school -- sports, debate, band, cheerleading, dance team, drill team, drama, on and on. Over fifty percent of our kids are in activities that are extra curricular. Most community leaders were in an extra curricular activity. And activities keep kids interested and attentive in school. I may be putting myself in a corner by these statements but by and large most business owners I know locally, many of them attended Kayhi and were in an extra curricular activity. This line item should be top on the priority list (not taken off), as was vocational training that was deemed not that important.

Look at us now. One in five workers in construction is from out of state. 20 percent of our work force cannot even get a permanent fund, 5 in 7 in the oil fields are from out of state, our state's highest paying jobs are held by out of state people. This is going to devastate our local economies. Transient workers do not buy homes, cars, big dollar items not easily transported, or enroll their students in our schools. My fear is that in a decade or so without ACTIVITIES we will not only have fat little kids that do not know how to use tools or be a team participant, or leader. We will have to import into Alaska far more than the projected 30 percent transient workers that we are going to have to import in five short years. Activities connect kids to their local community.

On my 10, 20, now close to 30 year reunion I rarely talk about what a great social studies class I had, but I do remember southeast wrestling tournaments and how it took me three years to letter. I do remember Don Goffinet as a premier shop teacher, and Phil Jackson as a excellent shop teacher, Jerry Castle's welding class, and others who taught maritime, small engine repair etc,. These skills helped me on my first Davis Bacon job making over a grand a week as a laborer in my early twenties.

Just some thoughts of my own not representing any group or lodge. Not knocking the other classes either, I loved English, speech and drama, home economics and history also. I just do not use those skills as often as my vocational training, that wrestling taught me the discipline to apply. My punctuation skills attest to that.

Charles Edwardson
Ketchikan, AK

Received March 25, 2008 - Published March 25, 2008


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