Guest View: Vocational education would benefit from LTUSD bond
I want to join with the Tribune in supporting Measure A, the Lake Tahoe Unified School District bond measure that will appear on the June ballot (editorial, Feb. 20). As the Tribune pointed out, this measure is intended to provide much-needed funds for infrastructure, building repairs, library and the area that I think is most critical, a Green Academy, a return to a teaching of the trades.
My daughter, Masha, who gained so much from our school system, has just begun her first year at the University of California, Santa Cruz, so I had an opportunity to see firsthand the courses she needed for entry. And, while in no way do I want to underestimate anyone’s intelligence, it seems to me that not every student wants to be a rocket scientist or a marine biologist. Not only do the sciences and technology not apply to many, but there also are many students more interested in the mechanical fields or the trades. All honorable pursuits, and in many cases offering very profitable and rewarding careers.
It occurs to me that many students would be inspired to continue with their education, rather than being discouraged by the pre-college requirements and dropping out. They would be willing to learn basic math, reading and related skills if they could see a future for themselves in the trades, doing something they could master and enjoy. When it’s all said and done, isn’t it just as rewarding to be a great mechanic or skilled carpenter, looking at your work, as it is to have successfully launched the space shuttle? I certainly think so – a job well done is always appreciated and admired.
Some time ago, around the mid- to late 1950s, we got the idea that engineering was the career of the future. I remember, as a high school senior, seeing the ads in the Los Angeles Times, page after page, for new scientists and engineers. Great careers they were, except in our pursuit we somehow closed all or most of our trade schools, and the standard became calculus and biochemistry, forgetting that many just aren’t that interested.
It is in that process that we built into the current system a kind of discouragement, a frustration in my view. If I am a ninth- or 10th-grade student, struggling with the state-mandated tests and the difficult courses required for college, the idea to drop out is a common one: “Why not quit – I am not going to make it to college.” I hear this from many current and former students.
Yet, with the promise of a well-paying job in the trades taught in a new Green Academy, that student will be willing to learn the basics of adding and subtracting, and of writing so he can be read.
This bond issue, which really is a bargain for us as taxpayers enjoying the benefit of Proposition 13, will restore not only this needed aspect of education, but also provide an inspiration, a new enthusiasm in our young people, to participate in and complete their education.
I remember the day I got my reassessment notice under Proposition 13, sometime in 1978 or so, my taxes were rolled back to an earlier date, saving me hundreds of dollars. When I bought my current home, some 10 or so years ago, I enjoyed the assessment of only 1 percent of the sale price and a limit of any increases to no more than 2 percent annually. Heavens, inflation in most recent years has been more than 3 percent.
In my view, the requested assessment is a bargain, a low price to pay to support and build our future, our young people. As I consider the vision and goals for our community, it includes young people and families, and this means schools. Not just adequate schools, but the kind of schools that are an invitation to others to want live and work here, to raise their families here and to be a part of our community.
This is an investment in our youth, and it also is additional insurance to make staying in school and graduating a possibility, a reality for more students rather than dropping out and potentially burdening our society (think what that costs) or limiting them to live with less than their full potential.
Please vote yes on Measure A.
– Ted Long is a South Lake Tahoe city councilman.