24.2.09

BLUE COLLAR ARISTOCRATS.

I admit to being contrarian about the myth of an industrial middle class based on union wages, convinced as I am about the evidence that the Treaty of Detroit was a division of monopoly rents temporarily possible while the automobile manufacturers of the rest of the world were recovering from a war.

I'd like readers to consider something further. Those assembly plant workers relied on the efforts of workers in other factories, possibly unionized, possibly residual claimants on the monopoly rents. Specifically, I'm referring to the workers that made the patterns and the tools and the motors and the controls. Falk. Kearney and Trecker. Nordberg. Louis Allis. Cutler-Hammer. Allen-Bradley. That was Milwaukee. If you had heavy lifting to do, Harnischfeger or Bucyrus-Erie had what you wanted.

Those things involved hard work. Let us be grateful for Harley-Davidson offering one outlet, and for Blatz and pre-chemistry Schlitz and Pabst and, horrible dictu, Miller, to help cool down.

But wherever you went, you probably would encounter a graduate of Milwaukee Trade and Technical High School for Boys, popularly Boys' Tech. (It later went co-ed. That's not my gripe. The girl worth the while can rewire her house or re-rig her sailboat.) Admission was competitive. In addition to a pre-engineering curriculum, it included specific courses in the trades and an opportunity for a young man to complete an electrical or plumbing apprenticeship during four years at Tech and a fifth year in the apprenticeship program.

Today, Tech is called Lynde and Harry Bradley School of Trade and Technology. It's in a new building paid for with Allen-Bradley money. Same purple colors and Trojan mascot. But it's become just another urban school, with all the troubles that phrase connotes, as well as all the frustration the students who are there for the trades have been expressing with the disruptive students and their off-campus buddies interfering with their ambitions.

Milwaukee radio commentator Jeff Wagner would restore the old Tech tradition.
Bradley Tech used to offer students a great education in their trades. Both of my brothers-in-law graduated from the school when it was still known as "Boy's Tech" and feel that they received a great education.
However instead of being an outstanding techical school, Bradley Tech has morphed into a dumping ground - and that's too bad.

I continue to believe that part of the problem lies in Bradley Tech's "open" design. When a fight breaks out, everybody in the school immediately knows it (and large numbers of kids - and their relatives - then jump into the fracus[c.q.]). I concede though that , as an explanation, the design issue only goes so far.

Frankly, when it comes to Bradley Tech, MPS officials need to do one of two things: fix it or fold it.

Personally, I'd like to see MPS figure out a way to get Bradley Tech back to it's [c.q.] glory days of providing a high quality education to students genuinely interested in the trades. If they can't do that though, they should just cut their losses and shut the place down.
I want to take a global view. Why take two years of community college as the minimal secondary and post-secondary job preparation for young adults, when the Milwaukee Tech model gets the craft and trade preparation done in high school or in one year beyond high school? And a Tech apprentice would grasp "couldn't carry water for a patternmaker", a gibe that too many in higher education don't.

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