Friday, June 25, 2021


Provide Real Options

There’s a new high school program gaining traction in Clinton and nationwide called STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). It’s a plan to remedy the decades old destruction of vocational education but with a high-tech twist. For years we’ve been told that the only path to success and greatness was through a four-year college education. Hence the gradual subjugation of vocational education to the almighty altar of higher education. This is a falsehood that has often consigned students to low self esteem, reduced expectations, unhappiness, and low earnings.

This has also left employers starved for employees and thinking about leaving Connecticut. There’s a strong push for a meaningful STEM Program in Clinton from the Clinton Manufacturing Association, the Economic Development Commission, and enlightened parents.

How did we get in this predicament? Educators, parents, and colleges share the blame. Who doesn’t want little Johnny or Mary to be a doctor, scientist, or astronaut? That’s great if that’s their goal, but one size does not fit all. Some will not try; others may try and fail. We want children to succeed in doing what they do best, to have a good career, be happy, and make a comfortable living and stay on the shoreline. Making this happen often does not include college and its mountain of debt. They can always go to college later.

We need to provide our children with real options upon leaving high school. Partnering with local industry to provide real-world learning and skill building can fast track a young person from the classroom to a good-paying career with college a later option rather than a requirement. This has been termed the “Classroom to Work Force Pipeline.” I encourage your readers to pressure educational leaders, our school board, and other elected officials to get on board.

Phil Sengle