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Enough is Enough: Why is there so much pressure to attend college?

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Apparently the mayoral campaign has started and friends of my opponent have begun attempts to discredit me.

In a Letter to the Editor published June 27 in TCT, “Students have a willingness to succeed,” signed by Jordan C.D. Handy, I am accused of negativity towards the Lewiston School System. (Oh, did I mention that his father, James Handy, is the chairman of the Lewiston School Committee and a friend of my opponent?)

Young Mr. Handy’s letter about one of my columns, which was published May 23, comes five editions after the column ran. Why the slow response?

In his letter, young Mr. Handy states that my column was written with a negative flavor. He contends that I implied that “The Lewiston Regional Technical Center is nothing more than a dumping ground for students that can’t succeed academically.” On the contrary, my article praised the program.

Young Mr. Handy asserts that my column implies “students are relegated to minimum wage jobs with no benefits, such as Walmart.” I implied no such thing. If you’re employed at Walmart, what is he implying about you?

His remark contending that the Lewiston Regional Technical Center is not what you might call “shop” is somewhat curious. In the 1960s when Handy’s father, my opponent and I graduated from high school, “shop” was a buzzword for losers. It baffles me as to why he used this particular word.

Then there is a sentence that makes no sense whatsoever. However, if one was to conclude it may have been a Freudian slip, substitute the word “elitist” in place of “student” in the following sentence. “The students that ‘falter academically’ in our technical programs went on to prestigious schools”, you would have a description of many academics being exposed to tools.

This clearly shows why we need these technical programs. If you flunk “Hammering 101,” you’ll need someone to keep your house in repair.

Young Mr. Handy’s accusation that I am always negative is a page straight out of my opponent’s playbook.

Young Mr. Handy claims that more than half of the LHS 2011 graduating class went on to college. If you subtract the number of the dropouts included in this class, this would bring the Class of 2011 below 50%. By the way, what happened to those who failed to go on to college?

Lastly, he claims I got the college name wrong. Guilty as charged!

Young Mr. Handy’s letter suggests one of two things. It is either a politically motivated letter designed to discredit me, or it is a cry for help from a young man in need of a remedial reading course.

In order to reference the scurrilous remarks attributed to me, I have added the portion of the original article that young Mr. Handy takes exception to:

Why is there so much pressure on our local students to attend and graduate from college? Why are they continually left with the assumption that without a piece of parchment from a “college” or “university” they will live life as a failure?

Many people living in Lewiston-Auburn own homes, cars, seasonal camps, retirement property to our south and have good jobs. They live happily and comfortably. But, unlike their peers, who have attended college, they have no degree—nor the enormous debt that goes with it.

Over the years the Lewiston School Committee has realized many students are not college material. Many who falter academically excel in trades such as automotive, woodworking, sheet metal and, in case you’ve been away from the area for a few years, an extremely renowned culinary arts program that sends more of its students to the world-renowned New York Institute of Culinary Arts [Culinary Institute of America] than any school in the country.

Air Force and Army ROTC programs, along with the Law Enforcement Cadet Program, offer a career foundation to those who desire work away from the confines of an office.

With much fanfare, iPads are now replacing computers currently used in our school system. What is hailed as an innovation and helpful to some students could prove to be a job killer to a majority of others. The reason? Students’ keyboarding skills will diminish, leaving them without the skills needed to qualify for nearly half the jobs currently available in our community.

This lack of foresight would close the door to graduates seeking clerical or secretarial positions. Or it could force them to reach into their own pockets and pay to develop skills formerly offered as part of our public education system.

Lewiston-Auburn redevelopment staffs have worked hard to bring new jobs to our area. TD Bank and Argo have and will bring hundreds of new jobs needed to boost our local economy. It’s time to return to the realization that not all our children are college material. Let’s continue teaching the basic skills needed to insure that every student possesses the skills that will move our community forward.

The last thing we don’t want to see in the windows of future employers is a sign stating: “Lewiston and EL Graduates need not apply.”


One Response to “Enough is Enough: Why is there so much pressure to attend college?”

  • Steven W Lindsey:

    We’re getting a little thinned-skinned here, aren’t we, Bob?

    A mayor of a town of 36,000 taking on a high school letter writer?

    This is something you don’t see everyday.

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