Address to Manatee County Teachers
By Floyd T. Christian, State Superintendent
Friday, August 19, 1966 -- 8:30 a.m.
The most certain aspect of the world in which we live today is its
uncertainty. The most permanent aspect is its lack of permanence. And
the most changeable aspect is change itself.
The old saying used to be that the only things we could be sure
of were death and taxes. We need to add one more: and that's change.
For we can be certain of change. Nothing stands still and nothing
remains the same.
The most striking thing about change, as I look back over these
last two decades, is not only change itself -- but the intensity and
rapidity and speed of the change which is taking place -- the rate of
In some sixty short years, for instance, man has increased the
speed with which he can travel from 60 miles per hour to 15,000 miles
per hour. He has replaced the ditch digger with the power shovel ...
the horse with the tractor ... and the wireless with world-wide television.
He has reduced the work week, from sunup to sundown to 40 hours a week
and less -- and has made great strides in conquering outer space.
The changes come so fast, it seems that some of us try to make
believe they didn't happen, or try to ignore them. But there's one
change we cannot ignore -- and that's the change in the way we make our
living, for that affects the lives of every one of us, and intimately,
in our homes and in our pocketbooks. Let's look at this for a few
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1. The work which man does for a living has changed.
Thousands of workers have been displaced by automation, and more
will be displaced. An estimated 5,000 jobs disappear from the labor
market every day, and these are replaced by a smaller number of jobs,
all of them requiring new and more complex skills.
The U. S. Department of Labor estimates that four out of every
five persons will have to go back to some kind of school, to improve
his present vocational skill or to learn a new skill for a new job.
Those of us in the professions, such as teachers and doctors and
dentists, have always known the need to go back to school to learn the
latest techniques and discoveries. A teacher educated in the early
forties would be lost in the classroom today, if she only knew what she
had learned in college then -- just as a doctor educated ten or twenty
years ago is handicapped if he doesn't keep up with the new drugs
and new advances in surgery. It is well known that 90 percent of all
the drugs in use today have been discovered in the last ten years.
Now, it's everybody's turn.
2. The relationship between man and his job and his education has
Early man taught his sons and daughters all there was to know
about how to live and how to survive. The vocation of the young person
was usually determined by that of his father. A farmer's son became a
farmer, a shoemaker's son a shoemaker, and a nobleman's son a noble --
a decision often made by the accident of birth -- and not by the desires
of the son or the needs of the community.
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And father was the teacher. Or if not father, a neighborhood
craftsman to whom the son served as an apprentice -- the original
on-the-job training. The son's education was relatively simple. The
skills he learned were the same skills his father had learned before
him, and his father before him, and down through the ages. The changes,
when there were changes, came slowly.
Today, of course, this is all different. The son is free to pursue
the vocation of his choice. The learning never stops, but continues
throughout his adult life.
And, perhaps more important, the community in which he lives has
an interest and a stake in his success. He must have the skills to be
self-supporting -- or he becomes the responsibility of society. The
community must have use of the skills he does have -- for it takes the
efforts of the total population to make our system function well.
The responsibility for meeting these needs has been given to your
schools. And we, in Florida, have accepted that responsibility.
I think you'll be interested to know that Florida's vocational
education program, conducted in high schools, vocational schools,
adult centers, and junior colleges, is the fastest-growing in the nation.
Since 1954-55, vocational enrollments in Florida schools have more
than doubled, from 327,000 to 695,000. In the next ten years, we
anticipate that the total will reach nearly 1,140,000 -- or approximately
one in seven of the total projected population.
And we are not going to be caught short -- we are making the plans
now and a great deal of work is underway.
On the drawing boards and under construction are new vocational-
technical facilities totaling $16,000,000, made possible by an
appropriation of the 1965 Session, and supplemented by a federal
appropriation of $2,433,687 for last year and $3,021,000 for this year.
I feel confident that this is only the beginning; additional state
and federal funds for construction can be expected in the years ahead.
We are building a vocational-technical network of area schools in
Florida, to place the opportunities of vocational-technical education
within commuting distance of every adult in the state.
Twenty-nine area vocational-technical schools have been designated.
Nine of them are now open, serving the vocational-technical needs
of their areas.
A year from now, five additional area schools will be ready to open.
One of them will be your own $715,000 center here in Manatee County.
When these 14 area schools are in operation, we will be serving counties
containing over 3 1/4 million persons, or approximately 57 percent of
the total population of the state.
I want to compliment your superintendent and his staff and all of you
who have had any part in planning this expanded vocational program.
It seems destined to be outstanding, based as it is on surveys of
student and community needs ... surveys, I might add, which were
conducted both by local school officials and by the State Department
of Education's Division of Vocational, Technical and Adult Education.
It is heartening to know that the programs to be offered initially --
in food service, auto mechanics, machine shop, dental assistance, farm
tractor and machinery mechanics, and office occupations -- are truly
responsive to student interests, and attuned to the opportunities
available in your own backyard.
When all 29 of Florida's area vocational-technical schools are
in operation, we will be serving 40 counties with a combined population
of more than 4 1/2 million persons, or approximately 83 percent of the
Even then, obviously, we will continue to do more. We will have
to do more, until similar opportunities are available to every Florida
Of the 29 new area schools -- 8 of them are part of existing junior
colleges ... 18 of them are new schools, located and built to serve the
needs of a particular geographical area in need of vocational education...
and 3 of them are existing vocational technical schools to which capital
outlay improvements and additions will be made.
In addition, of course, vocational education is presently offered,
and will continue to be offered, in high schools and vocational-technical
schools which are not designated as area schools, but which serve only
the county in which they are located. And many junior colleges, not
designated as area schools, offer vocational and technical education
courses as part of the regular junior college program.
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But, we are not building a new empire of vocational education,
separate and apart from the total school program.
The area schools are located only after extensive surveys of
educational needs. They are operated under the county school systems -
with state leadership and support, but with local control. And they
are dove-tailed into the local and state education efforts.
Florida's concept of vocational-technical education is not to
separate, but to pull together.
The student who elects the purely academic route, can benefit by
exposure to vocational-technical skills -- for somewhere along the way
he will make a vocational decision and the exposure to vocational skills
will serve him in good stead. And the vocational-technical student,
who may have already made his decision -- must participate in the full
social and political life of the community and needs academic skills,
in addition to the skills with which he makes his living.
We might need a redefinition of terms. The term "liberal education,"
usually used to talk about academic subjects -- as against the term,
"vocational education," usually used to describe job training -- are
both a little out-of-date and misleading.
For there is really nothing "liberal" about an education which is
restricted to just the hard core subjects like math and English and
foreign languages, and we fall short of the "vocational" if the education
is limited solely to learning how to do the job and nothing else.
And, it's also a little confusing. Music is considered a part of
a "liberal education" -- but for the boy who intends to play in the
band as his career, isn't music "vocational?" A carpentry course is
termed "vocational education" -- but for the man who never goes on to
become a carpenter and just uses the skill to repair things around the
house, isn't the carpentry course "liberal?"
A liberal education, to me, is really any education program which
broadens a man's outlook and expands his abilities -- regardless of the
particular name of the course.
Maybe we should combine the terms "liberal-vocational." Or, even
better, discard them both, for they are misleading and tend to be
For, after all, it is all education. Our job is to educate, to
teach, to help people learn -- and our purpose is the same, regardless
of the name of the course or the particular skills involved. The
"name of the game" is education.
Now, I want to talk to you as one educator to another about the
importance of recognizing the value of vocational and technical education
to our young people and to our society.,
There is no excuse for any one of us to support in any way the
once-popular notion that vocational education is some kind of second-
class program, or a dumping ground for the student who doesn't do well
in his academic subjects.
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We know that not all students are equipped to be scientists,
mathematicians or foreign language experts. And we're lucky that this
is so, because as great as our need may be for increased numbers of
college-trained personnel, our need for craftsmen and technicians
For every trained scientist, engineer, teacher or other college
graduate, American society needs a battery of skilled people to carry
out plans, apply theories, operate machines and so forth. We all
know that this is true, and we cannot afford to give less attention to
the abilities and interests of the students who are not academically
As teachers, we have a clear responsibility to each and every
student, to assess his talents accurately and unromantically, to match
them with available opportunities and community needs, and to guide
him toward reasonable goals.
By guidance, I mean more than providing specialists to administer
and evaluate tests, or to counsel troubled students. I mean active,
day-to-day guidance---inspiration, if you wish---offered to every
student by every member of our profession with whom he comes into
contact, in the classroom, the office, the cafeteria, the gym or the
If any of us thinks that society places greater value on the college
graduate, a closer look is in order. There is a great deal of social
emphasis on college degrees, I know, but that isn't the only measure of
success in America. In fact, we usually hear that money is the dominant
yardstick, and we either deny it or deplore it. Certainly we would
agree, however, that wealth is one measure of success in our society.
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Now, just consider some average salaries. A plumber makes $8,950
a year. A truck driver makes $8,300. A beginning mechanical technician
makes $8,136. None of these occupations requires college training.
Take some occupations that do: The average anthropologist makes
$5,600 a year; the average geologist, $6,500, and, unfortunately, the
average for instructional personnel in Florida schools last year, $6,600.
All have college degrees and are considered professional people. But
are they more successful than the plumber?
Clearly, on the financial yardstick, a college degree is not
essential to measuring up.
If we are willing to pay our craftsmen and technicians as well as
we pay our professional people, and in some cases better, then
considering them second-rate smacks of nothing more than social or
And for us, as teachers, to let snobbery of any kind affect our
dealings with children would be unforgivable. To let snobbery influence
the way we guide and work with and influence our students would be a
tragedy, not only for .the students as individuals but for our free,
open, democratic society as a whole.
One other point I want to make: Just as all teachers must be
concerned equally with the education of all their students, so all of
us need to work together, coordinate our curricula and our guidance
programs, across subject lines and administrative barriers.
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Just as no teacher should give preferential treatment or
attention to students whose goals appeal to him, so all teachers must
treat each other with mutual respect. There must be no caste system
in education. Teaching mathematics or English should not be considered
any more elite than teaching agriculture or office practices or TV repair.
If we are perceptive and mature in our approaches to the massive
educational tasks ahead, there will be no second-rate pursuits among
our students, no second string among our teachers, and no fighting
over funds and facilities for this field or that field.
The interests and abilities of our students and the needs of our
society will dictate the programs we offer, the staffing we provide,
the facilities we build, and the money we spend.
If we are doing our job, and doing it right, we will not have time
to fret about whether the junior college is stealing some thunder from
the adult-vocational-technical division of the school system, or vice
versa, or whether the social studies teacher is more highly respected
than the auto body repair teacher at a certain school. There should
be no low man on the educational totem pole.
There is more than enough work to go around. And we need to worry
only about whether our students are getting what they need from school
in order to function in the American society of the future, and in
order to keep that society functioning.
Remember, we in Florida are committed to the principle of education
above all and education for all. And we cannot permit ourselves to
indulge in efforts which do not contribute to the fulfillment of these