Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A salute to technical education graduates

Hope Peterson wants you to know that the modern-day auto technician bears little resemblance to the comedic portrayals of yesteryear.

They're not Gomer and Goober.

"I think parents have this idea in their head that being an auto mechanic is like being a grease monkey, and that's not true," Peterson said. "It's about computer-controlled systems and knowing the correct procedures to accurately diagnose and repair cars."

Peterson, owner of New Hope Auto & Truck Services in Clearwater and a graduate of Pinellas Technical Education Center, implored people to see career and technical education in a new light.

Speaking at a Pinellas Education Foundation fundraiser Wednesday, Peterson argued the pursuit of a trade can be just as fulfilling as the pursuit of a college degree.

That she has to make the argument says a lot about our society. As a college graduate and as the son of college professors, I've made attending a four-year institution an expectation for my children.

In my mind, pursuing a vocation would be a fallback if they didn't have the acumen to get into a university.

That line of thinking only can be characterized as misguided. The choice between a college like South Florida and a career education institution like PTEC are equal opportunities for success.

Like me, PTEC chief operating officer Dennis Jauch said he held the same expectations for his two children from "the day they were born." Now, his daughter works for a company in Pinellas after earning a four-year degree while his son works as a firefighter/emergency medical technician in Pasco.

"They're both happy and they both make about the same amount of money," Jauch said. "My son is a career technical person. He's doing what he should be doing."

Since taking over at PTEC three years ago, he has worked internally to raise standards while enhancing its brand.

The school serves more than 9,000 students, including young teens who didn't find their way at conventional high schools and career professionals who return to get more training.

Peterson, who serves on advisory boards, lauded Jauch's vision and saluted him for making PTEC a "cutting-edge destination."

Yet some still believe college should be the goal of every high school student.

If that sounds right to you, consider: In Florida, only 32 of every 100 ninth-grade students enter college, and only 14 of those students graduate with an associate's degree within three years or a bachelor's degree within six years.

Look, I'm not suggesting we don't challenge students to aim high, but how do we define high?

"We need to break the idea that out of high school your choice is go to college or (pursue) a trade," Jauch said.

"I really think it's which one do you do first, technical education or academic education, and then how do you go back and forth between the two during your career."

Plumbers, auto mechanics, construction workers, air-conditioning repairmen and other vocational careers deserve admiration.

There was a time when you didn't have to put that statement in a column because everyone knew.

I'm not sure why it changed.

I just know it's time for another cultural shift.

That's all I'm saying.

A salute to technical education graduates 03/26/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 26, 2010 11:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Still worried about family, Tampa Bay Puerto Ricans ramp up relief effort

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — Brenda Irizarry is worried.

    Brenda Irizarry of Tampa, while agonizing over the status of family in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, is helping lead an effort to collect and send supplies to the island. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
]
  2. Was it a crime? 10 patients at nursing home died after Irma

    News

    HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — A 10th elderly patient has died after being kept inside a nursing home that turned into a sweatbox when Hurricane Irma knocked out its air conditioning for three days, even though just across the street was a fully functioning and cooled hospital.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]
  3. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us

    Columns

    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on display, and it brought illness and death.

    Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman.
  4. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”
  5. Facebook to release Russia ads to Congress amid pressure

    NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook will provide the contents of 3,000 ads bought by a Russian agency to congressional investigators.