Last month, over 100 students in Ottawa, Ill. protested the closing of their high-school building trades program. Citing a financial deficit and need to balance the school budget, the school district effectively eliminated the program by firing the Industrial Arts teacher, Dave Keeley. As a consequence for protesting, the students were banned from their senior prom. Yet this punishment has not stopped them from organizing, and the students are now hoping for a record turn-out to continue protesting at the next school board meeting. (see "Building trades students looking for strength in numbers," The Times, 4/15/14)
The students don't lack for support: Dirty Jobs producer, Mike Rowe recently made a video in honor of the students who protested the closing of the Industrial Arts program.
In a phone interview with The Times (of Ottawa, Ill.), Rowe explained: "I consider this situation both a micro and macro issue," said Rowe. "It is big (on the national level) where cuts in such alternative classes are being made across the country and small when it affects smaller communities like Ottawa ... School boards should not take away classes that lead to making things and potential job skills."
The teachers union provided only lukewarm support for the fired teacher, in what might be viewed as a veiled bias towards technical education of its own.