The Death Of Shop Class And America's Skilled Workforce
Tara Tiger Brown, Contributor
During my freshman year of high school I was required to take home economics and shop class where I learned basics skills in sewing, cooking, woodwork and metal work. Regrettably the cooking never made an impression, but I fondly remember learning along with a class full of boys and girls how to sew a pair of shorts, punch holes into metal to create a hook to hang my bathrobe, cut and bend metal to make a box that still holds my pens to this day and use a rotary saw to make a hot plate that was used on the kitchen table at home.
Twenty years later I can still recall that sense of pride when I finished the blue metal box with only minimal guidance from my shop teacher. I remember him fondly, he wore a dark blue lab coat, coke bottle glasses and was missing the tip of one finger. It astonished me how the noisy, formidable equipment permitted me to have a taste of what it must feel like to be an artist, as opposed to an envious seemingly untalented observer hanging outside art class watching the creative students’ imaginations explode onto the canvas with every brush stroke. I have continued to use those skills throughout my life both professionally and when needed around the house.
Shop classes are being eliminated from California schools due to the University of California/California State ‘a-g’ requirements. ‘The intent of the ‘a-g’ subject requirements is to ensure that students can participate fully in the first-year program at the University in a wide variety of fields of study.’ (a) History/Social Science (b) English © Mathematics (d) Laboratory Science (e) Language other than English (f) Visual and Performing Arts (g) College Preparatory Elective Courses. High school administrators are graded on their effectiveness to administer those classes through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation. Shop class is not included in the requirements, thereby not valued and schools consider the class a burden to support. Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) with 660,000 students in K-12 has already eliminated 90% of shop classes and it looks like the rest will be gone by the end of the 2013.