Trade, Jobs and Education:
Trade with China and jobs in this country are inextricably linked. As an engineer and contractor in the Tri-Cities area during the first two decades of this century I have personally witnessed the dismantling of a significant portion of our local industry right here in the 1st District. Plants were shut down, people were laid off, and the equipment was boxed up and shipped to China to save a few dollars on labor. In the last few decades, the Banksters, Vulture Capitalist, and Wall Street Wizards have shut down and crated up America’s industry and shipped it to China and other low cost labor locations.
I support President Trump’s efforts to reverse this trend. This will cause some short term pain but there is likely a long term gain to be had and I believe we should stay the course and play hard ball with China. Especially in the area of intellectual property. A lot of people are happy to buy cheap Chinese knock offs of everything from hand tools to textiles but there’s an invisible price to pay. We use to have a flourishing textile industry in the 1st District and now we have none.
But balancing our trade with China and the rest of the world is only part of the story. We are in a new era of mechanization and automation that is diminishing job opportunities just as significantly as the exodus to China. The 21st century worker has to be better educated and more innovative than ever before and East Tennessee is already leading the way with a 21st century work force that is second to none. We need keep it that way by truly valuing our WORKERS and providing more opportunity for better paying jobs.
The foundation for strong economic development and job creation opportunity is a well-educated, (not just “trained”) work force. I have many years experience as a technical educator and I am very familiar with some of the short comings in our education system. I have lots of ideas on how we can improve it.
Like many things in life, a good education is grounded in the fundamentals. Two of my favorite teachers in life were my high school chemistry teacher, Bula Lynn and my college mechanics of materials teacher, Jmmy D. Shilling, P.E.
Bula’s thing in her chemistry class was to teach the coarse as it applied to what was under your average kitchen sink. To give you a relevant understanding of chemistry as it applied to your everyday life. It sure helped it all make a lot more sense.
Jimmy-D had a similar approach to mechanic of material. Mechanics of materials is a complicated subject with lots of equation but Jimmy-D summarized the important ones, made you memorize them and taught you how to apply them in the REAL WORLD. He always said “you need to know those formulas because you’re not going to have that book out there with you in field when you’re doing these calculations on the hood of your truck on back of a paper bag so you better learn em now.”
The challenge for a 21st century education system is determining the things that are fundamentally relevant to the discipline that the student is pursuing. The world is changing so fast these days and so much technology loses its relevancy shortly after its adoption by society. But the FUNDAMENTALS never change and if a student is well versed in the foundation of his vocation and armed with good communications and problem solving skills, their continued success in the rapidly changing world is assured.
Promoting partnerships between local industrial, commercial, and public training efforts not only enhances our public education programs but also assists industry in getting the kind of work force they need. Helping coordinate these partnerships, along with providing grant writing support to the local school systems, will be a key component of my constituent services agenda.