Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our Critical Tech Schools

Wisconsin's budgetary outlays are interesting to read about. A few percent here, several percent there, but nothing breaks into double-digits. Wisconsin just doesn't allocate much in any one particular area...

Except education.

Education support is the one item which not only breaks double-digits, but consumes the vast bulk of the State's expenses. How much? A whopping 38% of the State's money goes to some form of educational support, whether it be public schools, state-funded colleges, or tech schools. Education spending is to Wisconsin what Barbara Streisand's nose is to the rest of her face. It's what Donald Trump's hairpiece is to the top of his head. It's comparable to the percentage of Rush Limbaugh's body fat, or the percentage of Scott Walker's brain-cells devoted to his own ego.

In other words, if one is going to balance the Wisconsin State Budget, one simply has no choice but to cut education support somewhere. There's no way around it. We have to cut.

But may I make an impassioned plea that the one place we mustn't cut is our tech schools.

Our inner-city public schools have been failing. Our businesses are starved for skilled workers. That means that there are hundreds of thousands of under-qualified Milwaukee residents, and thousands of businesses forced to hire outside the State, or leave outright. Bridging this horrendous gap is Milwaukee Area Technical College. With a dual-pronged approach of making up for the lost learning from high school and giving excellent collegiate educational quality for the dollar, MATC is the one, lone bridge allowing those in the realm poverty to cross over the troubled waters of education to reach the promised shore of decent wages. It's the one beacon of hope that desperate education-seekers have.

Oh, don't get me wrong, MATC has its problems! It has its own teachers union which has basically decided to protect its full-time personnel in favor of screwing over the part-time instructors. And it seems to have the habit of looking after its own members Ph.D. aspirations more than is healthy. But it really is a remarkable institution otherwise. Its bathrooms have no mirrors and barely any tissue paper (because it can't afford these creature-comforts), its downtown buildings are old and dilapidated, and its facilities are stripped so bare that its teachers are forced to bring in their own white-board markers because none of the ones the school provides are ever anything but bone-dry. But it gets the job done. As teacher pay gets cut, and need for skilled workers becomes even greater, the gulf MATC bridges is more important than ever.

Cutting funding to tech schools like MATC now is the stupidest possible move. Why shut the front door on a burning building full of people?

Unlike MPS, MATC is doing awesome. It, along with two other Wisconsin tech schools, namely, Northeastern Technical College and Moraine Park technical college, are ranked in the upper 10% of technical schools in the nation in terms of demonstrating high levels of student success.

In other words, MATC is succeeding where MPS is failing.

Cut everywhere else if you must, but cut MATC last of all! It's an institution that's desperately needed, desperately wanted, and best of all...

...it's working!

Eric

1 comment:

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