Keep Your Eyes on the Little Guys

Folks keep asking me why I spend time (maybe too much time) on Twitter. Isn't it just another techno-toy for kids? Well, no. Some day I'll write a long blog post about the fascinating evolving uses of communicating in 140-character segments, but for now, I'll settle for sharing something I found in the Twittershphere earlier today.

Hot news. Times are tough. Manufacturing keeps losing ground. The old Solons of automation are all heading out to their fishing shacks and no kids want to be bothered with engineering. The sky is falling, and it seems none of the usual suspects has a clue about what to do.  Then up pops Pellissippi State in Knoxville, Tenn., (Be honest. How many of you knew it even existed?) of all places with a crazy idea--free college. Yup. Free tuition and books and fees if you want to sign up to learn to be a maintenance technician.  <!--break-->

Way to go, Pellissippi State! You make me proud to be a graduate of one of the two-year institutions we used to call "junior colleges." Yup, those two years living at home, working part time and getting a subsidized education (nobody thought it was "socialism" in those days when we had much better reason to be scared of Marxist leaning folks than we have today--but I digress) were what got me on the train to higher education.

Now no doubt, the Pellissippi State program isn't the grand solution to everything that's wrong with either manufacturing in particular or the economy in general, but it's a common-sense solution to a piece of the puzzle. It's the kind of small, local program that ought to be encouraged. It's also the kind of "can-do," community-based action that is one of the really great things about the U.S.

“Paying the costs of earning a degree is our way of helping stimulate the economy in our community,” said Rebecca Ashford, Pellissippi State’s vice president of Student Success and Enrollment Management.

Seems like the folks down in Knoxville get it.