Lynn has always been a city historically committed to education. Even today Lynn is Top 5 in all of Massachusetts in terms of student population and overall spending. We all can agree on the value of education in shaping the collective future of our youth, but we must also recognize the constantly changing dynamics of today’s society and the need for our education system to be adaptive.
Both public and private industries report that 21st century professions require skills that many of today’s graduates don’t have so it is our responsibility to change that. The focus for our education system needs to center around ensuring a comprehensive STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) curriculum that will provide our youth with the tools they need to succeed in this modern age.
A commitment to STEAM will lay the foundation for students to build on in further studies and then, with some hard work and good fortune, onto successful careers. However, we all know that a 4-year college degree is not the path for everyone. In fact, 77% of Lynn students graduate from high school but only 17% actually have 4-year college degrees. The other 83% need an education system that caters to their needs as well because society has continuously proven to us that there are multiple pathways to success.
We can provide different pathways by getting re-focused on technical/vocational education and skills training. Lynn is positioned well with some amazing industrial companies (that will play an integral part in our Economic Development goals) in the area that have a growing need for workers with specialized skills. It is our duty to make sure those jobs get filled by Lynn residents who had access to the training needed to succeed. Programs accomplishing things like that will be how we ensure that every single student gets what they deserve: an opportunity.
Our re-commitment to technical education not only capitalizes on some of the unique advantages we have as a city, but also considers the diverse makeup of our local community in that process. Today 30% of people living in Lynn were born in another country—that’s double the state average. Immigrant families face unique challenges in their journey into American life which we must take that into account when designing an education that is beneficial for all.
Taso saw firsthand how working in skilled labor allowed his immigrant family to chase the American Dream and work their way up to become small business owners. We must ensure our education system keeps the Dream alive by providing opportunity for students no matter their background, skin color, language, or upbringing. Diversity is our asset, not a detriment.