Rowe: AP/Paul KizzleMike Rowe, the host of the Discovery Channel show "Dirty Jobs," may seem like an unlikely voice in the country's contentious debate on the public education system.
But the television personality has become a leading advocate for vocational education programs in the nation's schools. He forcefully testified in front of Congress last month that the country needs a "a national PR campaign for skilled labor" in order to battle prejudices against it in society. His speech praising the country's plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, and other tradesmen clearly struck a chord--it was shared by tens of thousands of people on Facebook.
"We've elevated the importance of 'higher education' to such a lofty perch that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled 'alternative,'" he said. "Millions of parents and kids see apprenticeships and on-the-job-training opportunities as vocational consolation prizes, best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree. And still, we talk about millions of 'shovel ready' jobs for a society that doesn't encourage people to pick up a shovel."
Fortunately for Rowe, a few influential voices in K-12 education are now on his side, after decades of deep skepticism about shop class and other vocational programs, where education reformers worried teachers warehoused under-performing kids they didn't want in regular classrooms.Read More »from Vocational education advocates battle ‘enormous’ prejudices