View Full Version : Another H.S. metal shop bites the dust!

10-02-2005, 08:19 PM
WAs informed last week that the machine/welding shop would no longer be operated at the H.S. a bunch of us old machinist types have mentored at for the last few years.....The teacher we'd worked for was in a state of shock since he'd been told up to now that the industrial arts WOULD be fully supported.....They are keeping the wood shop that he's also in charge of, but it was hinted that he might not be able to be fully utilized at that school.....

He's been there many years and is one of the most capable educators I've seen.....Having it hinted that a RIF (reduction in force) may be in his future was quite a shock for him as he's in his early fifties.....He heard about a possibe opening in the woodshop at a larger school in the district, interviewed, and was promptly accepted.....Went back to old school to tell the principal how he'd solved her problem about having him around if she couldn't use him and she went ballistic, claining how they'd need to interview and hire a replacement, so it was agreed he'd stay awhile.....Only a week was needed (seems as if they already had someone in mind) so he'll start the new job tomorow.....

Couple of really bad points about all this:

(1) Several students were looking forward to starting or continuing metalshop this year, and at the last minute the rug was pulled out from under them.....

(2) This was the last full machine and welding shop in the entire county.....two others have "AG" welding, but no metalwork.....

Some of our school board and "academia" would love to see all industrial arts programs gone as they apparently feel no need for training in the metal and wood trades.....Just another step in the downgrading of our society.....


Spin Doctor
10-02-2005, 08:31 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Daminer:

Some of our school board and "academia" would love to see all industrial arts programs gone as they apparently feel no need for training in the metal and wood trades.....Just another step in the downgrading of our society.....



After all the powers that be "know" there are no "real jobs" in these areas. To me this is another example of a school system seeing their mission as preparing kids for college, as in a Liberal Arts Degree. Never mind that kids thinking about engineering degrees would be well served by classes in the mechanical arts.

John Foster
10-02-2005, 08:45 PM
Sounds familiar! Des Moines, Iowa had a fantastic Technical/Vocational school but it has slowly been whittled away and has only a few areas left. As the teachers retire (myself included) they close the shops.
What burned me the most, other than them cheating the kids out of a fantastic education, was that the administrators that worked so hard to close us down always knew where to come to get things fixed for themselves and did.
It has been said that this country is now into "Service Industries" and we do not need manufacturing. How are you going to create wealth (as done by manufacturing) by selling burgers to other burger flippers, or insurance salesmen selling to other insurance men or stock brokers, etc, etc.

[This message has been edited by John Foster (edited 10-02-2005).]

10-02-2005, 08:46 PM
This seems to be a continuing thread through out Norht America ? Is there something wrong about working in metal that I don't know about yet?

I used to be a design technologist. Changed to a tradesman when large companies downsized or offshored in the late 80's in western Canada. I'm so busy with work, I turn it away and the money is good too. Highschool shop programs have gone, but the local colleges have taken over some of the training. Now BC has grants to get HS grads into shop programs. My godson just started auto. tech. 1st year.

I own a sheet metal shop & can't find people who are apprentice material. If they don't have basic math/ science/ english/ manual skills & some curiosity about the world, how will they succeed at anything ? I used to think that parents/politicians/educators wanted a world of intellectual/professional people, but I question what professions are these kids being trained for. Any ideas?
Maybe it is about the de-industrializing of Canada and becoming more dependant on
China and other low-cost labour states, as they become the workshop of the world and major consumers/ owners of Canadian energy sources...
Thanks for the idea;

10-02-2005, 08:52 PM
Join the club.

10-02-2005, 08:57 PM
That's really sad.

There's no way that we can survive as a nation if we don't build anything. Everyone is not suited for college and does not automatically have the "right" to go.

Say what you will about shows like "American Chopper" or "Monster Garage" etc. but they are raising interest in working in the trades and our schools are dropping the ball...

There should be a renaissance in industrial arts going on right now in the education system!


10-02-2005, 09:59 PM
It's my feeling that some of the machinery related manual arts programs are being dropped for insurance liability reasons.

In one of our local high schools a good portion of the metal shop projects involved guys making various weapons for themselves.

In another large school district they aren't allowing the shop teachers to do maintenance on equipment for liability reasons. I know the guy who is contracted to do the maintenance on wood working machinery. He gets to charge almost a full day, 8 hours, to just change the blades in a surface planer. I'd do it for nothing, but I don't have the proper insurance to do machine maintenance.

Could it be the schools can't afford manual arts programs any longer? This is what happened with one of our community colleges. They had to discontinue some of their programs because of expense, the teacher/student ratio in shop classes makes them expensive in relation to a liberal arts lecture clas where one instructor can handle hundreds of students.

10-02-2005, 10:03 PM
all of you are asking the same questions i asked many years ago. computers are nice but who is going to build your house? who is going to fix your car? who is going to build the new highway or bridge?

10-02-2005, 10:10 PM
Doomed? Only doomed to reinvent the wheel -- again.

There is lots of federal money being put into "vocational" education right now. Nearly all of it is syphoned off into new computers. You might go to some school board meetings and ask just how the "technology" money is being used. Vo/tech, ag, building trades and tech (computer) teachers have a federally enhanced salary (this could different from state to state - the bucks come in a block grant form, Texas subsidises salaries). I know for certain that the ag types and building trades types are subsidised with those dollars. I also know that the pure vocational folks of metal trades, auto shop, and woodworking have been continually downsised even as the dollars have been available.
If we could convince Halliburton to sell lathes certainly federal money would be made available for schools to buy them by the gross.

10-02-2005, 11:45 PM
It's the damndest thing. I finally found an adult-ed welding class. The instructor has taught farm-based industial arts for years, but nobody wants to know about it anymore. His job is unstable.

Meanwhile, we want to quote some fairly simple machine work for a project at work. Those shops that are still operating have a tremendous lead time. So it seems that nobody wants to go into the business, but those that stay in have more business than they can handle.

So it seems that my hobby might just finance my retirement, too. Hope I can get my (eventual) kids hooked...


10-03-2005, 06:32 AM
I bet china ,tiawan,India, and other 3rd world countrys have some sort of related training.
Thats where we will get our stuff.

this sucks, but true.

The tame Wolf !

10-03-2005, 09:33 AM
The machine shop at my vo-tech "alma matta" (?sp) is no longer there either. When I graduated in '88 there were twenty or so shop graduates. Four years after, there were maybe six graduates. I beleive that was the last class to graduate from machine shop, machine shop was eliminated from the cirriculum.

Regional manufacturing is said to be in need of machinists. I don't see it in the employment ads in local papers, and wonder from where the machinists they are looking for will come.

Could it be a sign of the "don't fix it, toss it, and buy a new one" where almost everything manufactured has become disposable society? Sad.

10-03-2005, 11:04 AM
I am startign to feel like a part of the "Last man standing" club, as i sit and look over my school shop as I type.


Ours is a new arguement in my area. My shop is both CNC and Manual in equipment, mostly manual. The arguement now is to train almost exclusive CNC, or to keep the manual machining in it. My advisory committee is very split on this - good thing to have 12 members, at least I get a variety of points of view.

Yet, one company very loudly complains that I am not teaching what is needed - CNC machines like they have - which would cost me about 200K to get up to, they believe we are wasting time teaching manual. This would also be somewhat against the current philosophy of my 12 member advisory committee which has settled upon a good mix -year one manual intensive with intro to CNC, year 2 - toolmaking and CNC.

The other factor - our area has boomed in machining in the last two years again, many companies going up to 60% over their 2002 levels, and machinists and good operators are so very hard to find by remaining companies - thus a very large shortage. The complaint is that the school shop does not meet that shortage - of course about 30 jobs in the paper yesterday........ All types - CNC, Toolmakers, operators, Jobv Shop all around...

And in all of this, with the philosophy changes and debates, with the shortage in machinists and good trainiees with fundamental background provided by school shops and VOC schools, and with the kids and adults saved - schools cut these programs, and your local employers in the field never flinch or step up - UNLESS ASKED!!!!!!!!

Oh BTW, your employers need to make investments into the shops as well, but this can be discussed later.....it is not as high priced or hard as it seems..... A major part of this "investment" is in hiring the students and having the philosophy to further training of the next generation, and to support training. Even this is not as high priced as it seems - compared to the spector of NO TRAINING....no workforce capacity future, loss of profits as machinists leave the field due to age......

Thus endth my rant as one who is on the front line of this battle.

[This message has been edited by spope14 (edited 10-03-2005).]

J Tiers
10-03-2005, 01:21 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by spope14:

[This message has been edited by spope14 (edited 10-03-2005).]</font>

Industry? What industry? The ones that have been closed and outsourced to asia?

I was not aware that the sweatshops in China were paying local US taxes..... http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//rolleyes.gif

There ain't no industry to do the complaining. The few smaller shops that still exist (here) seem to be persistent old guys who are trying to keep the place open until they decide to (can afford to?) retire.

Bigger industry always figures that anyone can be replaced, and if that becomes a problem, get it made in china. Really big industry has already gone to china, 5 or 10 years ago.

I don't like it either. But it sounds like the buggy whip folks complaining about a dying craft.

When you are in deep water, the ability to run is of no help. Conversely, when in the desert, swimming is of no use.

It's all about the environment, you gotta do what you gotta do, not what yah wanna do.

Besides, are you not aware that "educators" are trying to be social engineers (which they always have been) and affect what future society will be? If they themselves could actually DO anything useful, they wouldn't be "educators", and they might not be so biased against anyone working with their hands. (Note, an "educator" is NOT the same as a teacher....)

[This message has been edited by J Tiers (edited 10-03-2005).]

10-03-2005, 10:11 PM
Here are a few of the "Industries" that support my shop first hand:

Thermal Dynamics
Sturm Ruger - Pine Tree Castings
Lovejoy Tool (manufacturer of milling cutters)
Crown Point Cabinetry (though woodworking, they support manufacturing ed. of all types in our area)

Smaller shops that do R&D include Latva, Gloenco Newport, RDS, Coats Precision, Design Standards, Ultra Precision, and Creare for our TTRC Programs. This is a small list of many smaller shops. Out of my area, but very supportive include BAE, Intelitek, and other Manchester NH companies - 60 miles away.

My area is in little Podunk Northern New England, and the demand for machinists and good trainable toolmakers and CNC people is out of sight. Our area has everything from production to Research and Development. Over 200 machinists hired in the area in the last year alone, and the demand is that again. Even in lean times, layoffs were not happening but in spot markets, and those people were snatched up fast.

The old days of a company buying a machine, then hiring the drone button pusher to run the machine from day one to retirement (and junking the machine) are gone. China got the drones. The new thing is to work hard to be competitive, and it seems this is what the people I deal with want - they have millions tied up in this area, and seem to have committed. You know what, the drone who pushes a button for 8 hours, takes three of it as a break, never gives a lick about quality, never knows how to use a gauge or change a cutter or drill, and may make scrap for four of the remaining five hours without giving a damn- then has the gall to say "I is uh makinist" tends to insult all of us.

Back to my industrial support.

Pine Tree just opened up a Titanium casting line and plant last week - something unheard of in the US at this time.

Oh, the payrolls of these companies would make a major city look poor. The taxes support the schools, and the people hired support all the businesses in the area.

Guess my area is unique? From what I hear, not that unique. I have to, as an educator, make a choice. I can help people in my classes either work to get a fairly decent paying job with some pretty good future (this industry is growing here, even with the "threats", and our industry is graying, thus needing fresh blood of high quality), or give up, wear sack cloth and pour ashes on my head and say "work at Macs.". Sorry, Dad did not raise a quitter, and my advisory committee has a focus like a lazer. These are the people who want bad to kick the Chinese issue in the tookus, and are doing it in their individual realms.

I am also pretty poor at being a PC educator, and after 18 years of doing this, the school district is really not that interested in changing me to be PC. One note though - not being PC does not mean being ignorant stupid and rude, it means being fair and honest and developing constructive critique within the respect of others, but not sugar coating it. PC seems to mean "always having to say your sorry", but alas, I am not.

My schools let me run, learn, work to improve in my craft at my supporting companies, change things in my program to adapt fast - and provide what support a public ed situation can - and MORE, and most of all, let me tell the truth of what it really takes to do well....... Social experiment????? Here's a social experiment....you do the job, OR I tell you to take ceramics next quarter....... Work hard for me, I will go to the mat for you. If you do it right, I will tell you. If it is wrong but if you are trying, I will tell you what went wrong, then work with you to get it right without making you feel dumb - treat others as yourself. Then you prove to me you can do it on your own. Am I PC? I do not however, suffer fools - they take ceramics........

I work for great people, and give them 150%, and not to be full of myself, I know when the day comes they let me go, I can work in my craft elsewhere.

[This message has been edited by spope14 (edited 10-03-2005).]

10-03-2005, 11:21 PM
Our local schools combined and decided they no longer needed the industrial arts classroom and it's machines because they had a Vo-tech school. The only problem was the Vo-tech offered no woodworking classes at all. They sold all the planers and every other machine dirt cheap to a local business man for pennies on the dollar, never even bothered advertising it, just sold it as scrap. The Vo-tech still has a decent welding and machinist class and teach the class in the expanding eduacation classes for adults as well. They tell me it is on it's last leg when the instructor retires, they have no plans to rehire for his position. No telling what they will do with the machines they have now. The whole time all this is going on, they have a new steel plant moving in to replace about 1200 plant jobs that have moved south. The only other place to get any kind of industrial education is the local junior college. it's a good school, but their enrollment drops a man or two each semester. Whatever happened to the man learning a skill and going to work for himself or someone else. Your absolutely right about the schools pushing college on the kids. My senior year I was told by my guidance counselor that I had no business taking Industrial Arts class anymore. She said, "you been in it since the eigth grade, if you don't know it by now you never will." wouldn't let me take the first Vo-tech class either. I showed her, I went to college for 3 years before I realized I couldn't work a desk job and went to work. All those Industrial Arts classes paid off with all the jobs I worked for the next 20 years. Who knew!

10-03-2005, 11:39 PM
Same thing happened at a high school a few towns over from me. They sold the whole damned works for $2500.00 (!!!!), and replaced it with a "law enforcement" program. No disrespect intended to the police, but they produce nothing. The majority of jobs where I live are in commercial fishing, logging, trucking, and agriculture. A youngster entering any of these pursuits could benefit strongly from basic shop skills. Idiots.

10-04-2005, 10:26 AM
I graduated from high school in June of 2005 here in gold old New York state..

I took many "industrial arts classes" from woodshop to "principles of engineering" and "transportation systems"...

but the one class I never got to take is "Materials Processing" which is our metal shop class.. the instructor has some old SB 9" lathes a mill or two, and some tabletop CNC equipment along with many other useful tools..

but the reason I didn't get to take the class, verbatim from my guidance counsellor? "there isn't enough enrollment so we aren't having the class this year."

pushing college on the students, they are. it's not just the teachers, or the school boards, but the state legislators as well..

perhaps writing a letter to the people at the "top" (or is it middle?) of the educational heirarchy could get something more done than doing nothing

10-04-2005, 06:31 PM
High schools today are interested in one thing and one thing only. That is the bragging rights at the end of the year on how many students they were able to ship off to college. They can lay claim to changing times and financial hardships but thats pretty lame when there are still kids interested in the trades. Oh well. Uncrichie...

10-04-2005, 10:18 PM
Vocational Centers also use job placement, those continuing in the trades, those going on to technical schools, and college placements as "benchmarks". We follow students for many years after when possible - especially those in the field of study as workers as well as students.

Perhaps I may bring a different light on this. Iteach in a HS Vocational center, not a classic "High School", thus my benchmarks are different from the academic side of the house. However, as different as this may be, the benchmarks of Voc Ed. are also very important in many a persons eyes that fund our centers.

10-05-2005, 04:47 PM
on the note of "vocational schools" we have a seperate program here called B.O.C.E.S.. I don't know what the acronym means but instead of taking classes in high school you can go there for half the day and learn welding, building trades, automotive, nursing, childcare, food service, any number of trades....

but I chose not to go there because I would not have been able to take as many art classes as I did, and I still got to take technology courses with a great teacher, just not as many, and not in the "learning it as a trade" sense...

10-06-2005, 10:48 AM
I have seen extremes at both ends of the teaching curriculum. One local school had a teacher so dense with conventional machine shop practices that kids were asking for transfers to a differant school to get away from him. The trades are hurting should be like europe. Apprenticeship immediately after high school. A bit more training in mathematics towards some useable life skills. More complex calculas can be pursued at a university level. Just because someones a principal or even a teacher doesnt make them competent whatsoever. Should be more interaction between parents at school meetings and also be alowed to vote out the idiots morons and twerps that always seem to weasle themselves into a important position that can and will infleuence a young man or womans life career choices. Im pissed at the way school boards decide whats good for the kids. They seem to lack the pragmatic train of thought thats really required. Now ive vented but still pissed off at our education leaders, Ha

Last Old Dog
10-06-2005, 04:44 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by uncrichie:
High schools today are interested in one thing and one thing only. That is the bragging rights at the end of the year on how many students they were able to ship off to college. They can lay claim to changing times and financial hardships but thats pretty lame when there are still kids interested in the trades. Oh well. Uncrichie... </font>

Whilst visiting a neighboring school board meeting, I witnessed the following. An older man asked why so many trade classes had been shut down and now the last two will not be resumed. He said the board had shut down the metal shop, sheetmetal shop, auto shop, now the wood shop and machine shop were to be canceled.

At this point, the 'chair' slammed her hand down on the table and nearly screaming, "As long as I am in charge of this district we will not be turning out ditch diggers! This world needs lawyers and scientists that care for the environment, doctors and politicians that will make this a better place, blah, blah, blah." On and on.

It was obvious just who had taken over the 'education' there, social manipulators. Glad my grandchildren will soon have BA and Masters degrees. Last Old Dog

Not affiliated with your bud 'Your Old Dog'

10-06-2005, 07:05 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Last Old Dog:
the 'chair' slammed her hand down on the table and nearly screaming, "As long as I am in charge of this district we will not be turning out ditch diggers! This world needs lawyers and scientists that care for the environment, doctors and politicians that will make this a better place, blah, blah, blah." On and on.</font>
Wow. What an astounding display of ignorance.

10-06-2005, 07:15 PM
Glad she lives where she does and not around here. When will folks ever learn that it is the trade skilled jobs that will be around far longer than alot of other jobs. It never ceases to amaze the folks when they look at the number of electricians and plumbers as well as welders and machinists that are needed when it comes to keeping industry alive. Not to mention consctruction which will never go away from the job market. I just don't get why someone that isn't interested in a desk job is being pushed into it these days.

I guess as parents we all would like our kids to get into a profession that is supposedly easier to make a living at, but when you have a kid that only wants to work around his father in the shop, why push him out of it to go do soemthing he doesn't want to do. Life is way too short to push a kid into a job he doesn't like to begin with.

10-06-2005, 08:18 PM
"At this point, the 'chair' slammed her hand down on the table and nearly screaming, "As long as I am in charge of this district we will not be turning out ditch diggers!"

This is the kind I love to be called by to fix their AC. I have extra special mark ups and labor rates for these jackasses.

I had an english teacher that thought her poo didn't stink. I see no need then or now to be able to recite Shakespeare. Don't get me wrong though. I've flown to London to watch Bill at the Barbican and have been to the Globe. Or rather what they call the Globe now. I just don't want it rammed down my throat by a pompus twit.


[This message has been edited by meho (edited 10-06-2005).]