Stacy Becker's commentary reminded me of when I toured manufacturing facilities with high school students a decade ago ("There's magic in machines (magicians needed)," Aug. 14). It was indeed impressive to see the clean, quiet shops. Workers now, as always, take pride in their work and deserve respect for their contributions to society, including the economy. What we talked about after our visits, though, was how far we had to drive to get to those shops.
None of our students had cars, nor would we have wanted them to start their work lives already in debt for purchasing and maintaining vehicles. And back in the classroom, we fought for every dollar to scrounge equipment, buy gas for those long field trips to the suburbs and keep class sizes small enough for real teaching to happen.
There are two opportunities available right now for businesses wanting skilled workers. First, encourage everyone you know to support your school district's levy in November. Get loud enough to be heard shouting over less forward-minded organizations that just want to cut investments. Teaching real-world skills requires updated equipment, small classes and experienced instructors.
Second, pitch in to develop our public-transportation networks. Instead of supporting more freeways, consider supporting the buses and railways that get people to work without the need to buy and maintain a car.
ANNE HOLZMAN, ST. PAUL