Historic Labor Day

Guest Opinion

Historic Labor Day

This coming Labor Day will have great historical importance in the midst of a major construction and growth boom in our community. As recent Press-Citizen and news reports have brought to light, the billion dollar – and that’s billion with a B – construction by the University of Iowa with its many projects spanning nearly every facet of the University, is transforming our skyline not only by tower cranes but by the buildings they are constructing. There is also a historic construction undertaking by the ICCSD with its long range facilities master plan budget of $258,388,000 for new schools and upgrades to existing ones. It is also historically important to remember that this year marks the sixth year that the ICCSD will not offer a home building program for our students. At a time when construction opportunities abound, we are limiting opportunities for our students to pursue careers in the trades and construction fields. The home building program which was stopped in its 39th year creates a huge hole in our curriculum which is yet to be filled. The home building program which was offered by the ICCSD was one of the only courses which the students upon its completion would have marketable skills to pursue work after graduation. The same cannot be said for AP Physics or English which brings me to another topic: The overwhelming marketing of AP courses starting at 8th grade. Every parent who has attended workshops for their student’s upcoming high school years will get a constant drumbeat of AP courses that their student is highly recommended to take. This is to prepare them for the ultimate & only path to success – a four year college or university. But we all know this to be untrue. There are many paths to success and not everyone needs a four year college education to live a successful, productive and rewarding life. As much emphasis that is given to AP curriculum, should also be given to Industrial Tech or Career Curriculum. There will always be a need for carpenters, bricklayers, electricians, construction workers, mechanics, welders and skilled tradesmen – individuals willing to work by the sweat of their brow and the brawn of their backs.

Jason Kline, the principal of Cedar Rapids Kennedy, gets it. He “wanted a project that would unify the class around something that benefits the community” and I would add the students themselves. 439 seniors at Kennedy will build a Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity Home. Their goal is to complete this project before May 28, 2015. This project will not only open a door to a new home for a needy family, it will also open a door for all 439 students.

Phil Hemingway