Making St Paul a Manufacturing Center again starts with K-12 Education

St Paul once boasted of being a Manufacturing Center with 3M, Hamms, Whirlpool, and Ford. Now after the departure of the last ones 3M and Ford, St Paul is a shell of its former self. The local government still taxes residents as if they still work in a growing manufacturing center. The entrenched one party elected officials are not dealing with reality.
Those elected officials have no idea how to attract a new industrial/ commercial base. You can’t grow jobs by government fiat. This is evident from all the new food and business chains that start up just outside of the city limits.
How does one attract manufacturers back to St Paul? Lower property and income taxes and getting rid of other fees like wheelage taxes, or parking meters make living here easier for skilled workers but is it the key? No. It starts with K-12 Education.
Good schools are attractive to young professionals looking to plant
roots here. Unfortunately Strong Schools Strong Communities approach by Superintendent Valeria Silva is an utter failure.
Valeria Silva is championed by the SPPS School Board incumbent Keith Hardy as being innovative and progressive. The latter we agree with, innovation comes from several years of experience which Silva does not possess.
Silva has been learning on the job since she got the job in 2009. A brilliant teacher as some people claim may be debatable; she clearly does not have administrative skills. Why did the SPPS Board hire her, then retain her with a new contract?  They do not have great administrative skills either. They spend taxpayer money per student at rates comparable to and exceed private schools around the Metro and yet MCA scores are consistently at or near the bottom of all sorts of categories.
Industrial countries like Germany and Japan, students are tested in the middle school grades to see where their skills and interests lie. If the students are orientated toward industrial arts and the trades they are sent to vocational high schools and book smart students are sent to college prep high schools. While they normally do not get a well rounded education they don’t steer students toward college that don’t belong there.
Apprenticeships in high school in Japan and Germany are not uncommon as they are here in the US, it certainly is a direction that a potential manufacturing center must have.
Though you don’t have to look overseas for inspiration, you can look to the White Bear Lake Area Schools.  They have a new program called Manufacturing Pathways.
“to improve workforce readiness for our students and to address industry needs. This initiative is very important to the local business community as a strong, skilled workforce is an essential component to ensuring economic vitality of our industries.”–White Bear Lake Area Schools Community e-Newsletter 9/20/15
Greg Copeland and other Conservatives have mentioned this before the SPPS Board in the past, but it falls on deaf ears. It was suggested that there should be Industrial Arts High Schools in St Paul and AP courses that would allow students to attend Dunwoody or other Vocational Colleges in the Metro.
This idea of teaching vocational classes in school isn’t new.  Yet it has to be must for anchoring manufacturers who want to relocate to St Paul.  Philadelphia, PA has a similar program at the Randolph Technical High School.
“The goal is to graduate kids who have options. They can go on to a community college or a four-year degree program. They can also start a career with a marketable skill and three years of training behind them, making them more likely to secure a job and higher wages, instead of floundering out in the job market, where more than 10 percent of young adults with only a high school diploma are unemployed and more than 20 percent live in poverty, according to Pew Research Center.”–“Today’s High School Students Need more Vocational Training,” by Annie Holmquist writing for Better-Ed, 9/25/15
Sounds familiar?  The biggest problem in St Paul Public Schools is poverty.  Which is from parents who can’t afford to find proper paying jobs in a city that was a former great manufacturing center.
Now St Paul is a poverty collection center.
Let’s change this and make St Paul a manufacturing center again by bringing back vocational training and the industrial arts.

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