Schools should be open to program changes

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, May 15, 2018

It was recently announced that Pearl River Central High School will be converting its agricultural mechanics program to welding.

Kelli Beech, director of the District’s Career and Technical Education program, said while some may be concerned that the school is dropping its agricultural program, providing an education in welding will help prepare students for a career in a significantly growing field. She said having a welding program will allow the school to provide students with a nationally-recognized certification as well as either articulation credits or dual enrollment benefits with Pearl River Community College.

While there are undoubtedly positive aspects to having an agricultural mechanics program, the field is one that is slowly losing prevalence in this area, so a shift is necessary, Beech said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

This change comes shortly after PRCC announced in April that it would be ending its stone masonry program. Outcry broke out over that change, with the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation releasing a public statement claiming that the closure of the program would lead to a deficit in skilled laborers in the coming years. However, PRCC President Adam Breerwood said the program was slowly losing attendance, with the most recent year attracting only five or six students.

Closing down older programs may seem negative at the time, but often allows schools to provide a more positive education to its students. Schools that actively study employment trends across the state and nation and adjust their programs accordingly are able to teach their students trades that are more relevant in the current economy.

This in turn provides students with a larger job pool upon graduation. When recent graduates don’t have to look far to find a good job, poverty and unemployment inevitably decrease. Schools in the county should continue to look into different programs and educational opportunities to provide their students with the keys to succeed.