A magnet with wings: N&R Editorial

More on the proposed “aviation academy” over at Andrews H.S., see this editorial in today’s News & Record:

 There he goes again. Terry Grier, whose new-idea-a-millisecond style has won him his share of skeptics and admirers, has (you guessed it) another new idea.

The Guilford Schools superintendent wants to hitch the district’s wagon to the impending demand for aircraft workers in the Triad with an “aviation academy” next year at a local high school. Grier cites HondaJet’s recent announcement that it will manufacture a small jet in the Triad and TIMCO’s intentions to expand its aircraft maintenance operations here.

School officials envision a program that concentrates on mechanics, logistics and aviation technology. The academy would be based at Andrews High School, a good fit because the school already offers engineering and advanced technology courses. The funding would come from the U.S. Department of Education as part of a three-year federal grant request.

“There’s no question in my mind, it’s going to be huge,” Grier says with characteristic enthusiasm.

District officials recently visited the Aviation Program at Andalusia High School in Enterprise, Ala., and Denbigh High School Aviation Academy in Newport News, Va., for firsthand glimpses at how such a program here might look. Guilford’s director of magnet programs, Tony Lamair Burks II, particularly liked the private partnerships with industry and other groups the two programs have been able to generate.

But critics wonder if Grier and Co. have their heads (and their priorities) in the clouds. Given the district’s challenges in teaching basic skills, do we really need another fancy magnet? they ask.

What’s next, they say, rolling their collective eyes. Space travel?

In the face of such concerns, exotic initiatives such as an aviation academy could seem to be attempts to pursue glitz over nuts-and-bolts substance. But critics see these choices as either/or propositions. They’re not. At least they don’t have to be.

The aviation program would require math and science courses every year and possibly every semester. Students would earn college credit for their course work. In addition, the aviation academy would complement an existing program at GTCC, increasing interest and aptitude in an area that pays well and will need qualified workers now and in the foreseeable future here and elsewhere. Grier points to an aviation maintenance training program in Wichita, Kan., that is filled to capacity with 170 students and expects to add 150 more.

Grier’s ambitious program is no substitute for fundamental reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, nor is it intended to be. But it’s an intriguing complement to them, and well worth the grant proposal.

Let’s see if it flies.

E.C. 🙂

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2 Responses

  1. I must be having just another deja vu moment. Where are the “World-Class” magnets that Grier so enthusiastically offered up for High Point just 3 years ago? Oh, I remember, they didn’t get their magnet money. Hey, where’s the “Central Cooking Academy” that Grier so enthusiastically offered to us not even a year ago?–Never mind, it didn’t fly. …Hey, wait, what about that “Red Hat” program at Andrews?…didn’t fly either? This is a JOKE. If the taxpayers fall for one more Grierism it’s their own fault. Mr. Innovativeness needs to concentrate on the basics and figure out how to teach respect. An aviation magnet at Andrews will not “fly” any more than any of his other half-baked, program-with-a-fancy-name-to-obtain-free-money-that-runs-out-after-3-years ideas.

  2. I couldn’t have said it better myself!

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