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Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Place of GLTHS in Our Educational System

For John, BLUFThere is no doubt we need highly trained non-college grads in the future.  GLTHS is part of the solution.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

As the management style of the current Greater Lowell Technical High School (GLTHS) leadership gets reviewed in various places, let's keep in mind that it is, right up there with UML and Middlesex Community College, one of our crown jewels.  Not to take away from our own great High School and what it has to offer, but GLTHS fills a vital need in our community and our commnity's economic future.

A friend of mine with a PhD in Economics and serving as a Professor at a degree granting institution not in this region, wrote the following this AM:

The arguments for college sometimes miss some productive potential alternatives.   The average age of skilled workers in the US is past 50 (approaching 60 by some estimates).   When those folks retire not only is their direct production lost but we also begin to lose their ability to train replacements.   An example of how important this can be is the case of electrical generator repairs.   The policy goal of returning industrial production to the US will have some serious problems if there is not an adequate supply of skilled labor.

  Taking another step along this not so brightly lit path, industrial jobs that are coming to the US (some returning, some new) require greater knowledge and skill than did the old industrial jobs.   To compete with foreign industry, US firms must be very efficient and rising labor costs make this difficult.   So, firms are making more use of technology in order to boost output per worker.   Thus, while each employed worker in these job categories will make more, there are not going to be nearly as many workers employed.   Low levels of demand both domestically, due to our poor economic performance, and for US exports due to our lack of competitiveness and the even poorer performance of many trading partners, makes this a more difficult problem than in a healthy US economy.

  Newer jobs in the trades have higher startup costs than the old jobs but are still less costly than college degrees.   For those college majors that do not generally result in well-paying jobs post-graduation, a benefit/cost analysis would probably favor students at least considering job training for skilled labor work.   Machine tool makers and heavy equipment operators/maintenance workers have higher incomes than social science and humanities undergrads.

We all have to think about GLTHS's place.  Yesterday a friend of mine expressed some concern that while GLTHS is rejecting students interested in the "trades" it is preparing students for college.  Do we have the right division of labor?

There is no doubt in my mind that there is a definite need for GLTHS in our constellation of educational institutions.  I sometimes wonder if it's future isn't as a combined High School and Junior College.  That would give increased flexibility with regard to when students move to the school, and leave.  But, GLTHS has to be part of a larger picture of education.  It should not sit in grand isolation.  That doesn't mean I agree with City Councilor Bill Martin that the Lowell School System should absorb GLTHS.  While nothing should be off the table, I believe GLTHS's independent status gives it flexibility it might not otherwise have.

Mimi said, in a recent post that we all need to be paying attention to GLTHS—and she was correct.

Regards  —  Cliff

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