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Everybody's mountain a program in the recorded series written and produced by Robert Louis Shea on with the author as narrator. I was a citizen taxpayer on a mission behind the blackboard cutting of contemporary American education. I traveled throughout the United States for six months. I saw schools universities and educational experiments from Boston to Chicago from San Francisco to Miami. I began my journey in the valleys of generalization abstraction and controversy in education. I ended it on mountaintops of educational leadership and imagination. This broadcast is a report on one of those mountaintops the Dunbar vocational high school in Chicago. Dunbar vocational high in Chicago is rapidly renovating south side. He is one of the 10 finest examples of school architecture in the United States. It is a gleaming three wing welded to model structure on a 12 acre site. Chicago's Board of Education opened it to twenty three hundred daytimes students in 1956. Dr. Benjamin C.
Willis general superintendent of schools presided at the dedication ceremonies recently returned from a trip to the far east as educational adviser to the government of Cambodia. We talked about it in the directors conference room at Dunbar. What were your impressions of Cambodia Dr with us. I was very much impressed by the number of points observed one has this country has been free since 1955. Already there is a thorough recognition of the place of education and training as well will play in the future of the country and the lives of their people. Is it true that Prince Cnoc the prime minister believe strongly in the importance of vocational education. He believes are so severely that with his cabinet he moves the various places in the country with shovels and other implements. Shows by example that work as a dignitary and at the same time it has great value economic and spiritual values as well. But Cambodia is rather a primitive country industrially speaking right about America has
always been a drive away from work with the hands of this country. Well but we need more workers with more skills and this country. A community is and includes within IT people of all kinds of skills high level technical and vocational. When World War 2 began and America's need for skilled craftsman was great the Dunbar area was a big empty pocket. In Chicago. There were no vocational training opportunities in it for young people. Most of the neighborhood youngsters went into the unskilled labor market when they left high school. They merely repeated the experience of their parents who had no knowledge of skilled rock and no opportunities to get skilled jobs. Done by high a well baby school with only 400 students and 16 teachers in a small inadequately equipped building. Soon began to change the situation. Chester Williams 38 is a Chicago tailor. Mr. Williams Where were you born. I was born in Macon Mississippi. And what did your father do there. My father was a.
Track worker for the railroad. They were laying the track for the train room in the 70s and when you moved to Chicago where did you attend school. I attended school at a general high school that my academic diploma did you go to work. Yes I went to work for the Pullman Company check and then in there for the third registry How much did you make. About 50 cent an hour. That's a little better than $16 a week. Yes and then the Web came along he went to the service with the Army Medical Corps. Yes. And I that discharge from the Army I had decided was I couldn't be a doctor. I wouldn't take tailoring so that I could earn a living for myself and then decided to come under the G.I. Bill of Rights to Dunbar to study tampering. That's right. It's a little rough getting into the field I chose I had to take off this practice because tailoring was crowded and I took office practice for a year and a half and then I of course got into tailoring parties
around there I learned how to draft patterns and how to cut the garment from the pattern to how to trim and make the garment how to alter in bushel and in 1947 you got a veteran's certificate and what did you do. Well I open my own shop and proceeded to to be a professional tailor. That's right. When you've been at it for over 10 years now how is business. Well business is pretty good just going well I have managed to take care of my family and I have ventured I bought some real estate What is your weekly income but we condemn columns I'm average two hundred twenty five. Mr. Williams Real estate has a six apartment building for which he paid over $20000 after improving it with capital from his tailoring business. He has recently been offered all the $45000 for the property. You have five children Mr. WILLIAMS. Would you like them to go to Dunbar High Def. bastes wonderful institution.
My oldest daughter has expressed a desire to go to attend Dunbar and she knows that what the spool of thread you could make five in the dollar. The more of course I leave it up to them but I feel that if they acquired the knowledge of Taylor that they could carry on the business that we've built up vocational education in the nation's early history was a matter of apprenticeships and mechanics institutes when secondary education became right spread. The belief persisted that if boys or girls couldn't use their minds on books they should be taught to use their hands and kept busy puttering around in school shops until they were old enough to terminate their formal education. Many people to this day entertain hazy notions about the locational training. Vocational teachers are looked down upon in many states. Some do not even require a degree for vocational teaching. Seven years experience in industry is considered sufficient. Neil f. city I'm Dunbar's acting director has a bachelor's degree in
mechanical engineering and a Masters in Education from Northwestern University. He has a pilot's license and the ground instructors rating. He trained aviation mechanics during the war. Mr. Simeon you were one of the original teachers a Dunbar. When the school proved its usefulness to the community and this new building was planned didn't you contribute to its design. The board of education than the administration of the Chicago public schools under the leadership of Dr. Willis made it possible for the teachers to give their ideas on and views on what constitutes a good shop or a good classroom. You will find incorporated here many of the ideas of our faculty and you have some unique contributions in design actually made by the instructors today. Yes I can point out one that we will find in our Shura building shop. Instructor Mr. Noel has designed a circular student instruction mansion which you will not find anywhere in the States. In addition.
He has reassembled and redesigned the machinery that is used for instructional purposes. The men and women who worked on the design of Dunbar and with their own hands in many cases helped to rear its shiny edifice over an area once covered by industrial blight. Submitted detailed specifications to the architects for the layout of every shop classroom office and auxiliary facility. Rarely have teachers been so closely identified with the steel glass and concrete as well as the spirit and the tone of an educational institution. This was the outward expression of a deeply patent educational philosophy and they put pieces of themselves into its future. What is vocational education Mr. Simeon as it is practiced here or done by simply stated a vocational education is alive right through our program we give the boys and girls the skills the related technical knowledge and information and they know how in terms of social
industrial relationships to make them competent efficient workers. Dunbar has a high record in making people employable What is that record. In the beginning the record was not as good. Our first graduating class experienced a placement record of 50 percent or less. Today we could well say that 85 percent are placed by the time of graduation and that 100 percent are placed within for four weeks after graduation. This includes the 8 to 10 percent who might go on the college but we must remember that our program is designed for boys and girls who are interested in a terminal program that will make them a playable after high school at Dunbar the faculty doesn't care if it never makes a merit scholarship winner. Neither does a cherish any rags to riches notions for its students. The teacher is a consent with making young men and young women employees of the dignity in a society of increasing technological complexity where for every nuclear physicist who designs a space vehicle you need an army of skilled craftsman with the know how to build it and
blasted off. The Plaza done by helped to paint the walls. They maintain the equipment of the stage which is one foot wider than Chicago Civic Opera House. Every spring there was a fashion show and the professional models can't believe that the chic hats and dresses they display were made by the Dunbar girls. Done by his carpentry and plumbing shops that are high wide and deep enough to build simulated two story houses. It has a foundry with a crucible gas furnace and a rocking type electric furnace. It has an aviation mechanics shop designed to meet the standards set by the Civil Aeronautics authority. Grover C. Nash is an instructor in the aviation shop. He is a major in the Civil Air Patrol which is an auxiliary to the Air Force. He holds a pilot's license he is a flight instructor fully accredited. How many hours of flying time do you have Mr. Nash to lead 10000 certified alums. When did you solo first and the second one thousand thirty two.
You work your way through aviation school. Got your pilot's license and then you flew a plane from Chicago to Tuskegee rather the circumstances of that flight. It was a pretty rugged flight and I had about 25 flights landing on that flight. But it was the first time an airplane landed on the ground right. Yes it was. The work came in you became an instructor for the Air Force. Yes sir. Where did you teach at. And at our at the major air bases in America and you told officers about the engines of the B-29. Yes or at dead at Amarillo Abbes in Amarillo Texas you were also troubleshooter in the air for the FAA. Yes I was. When the war was over you resign you came to Dunbar. What do you think of the opportunities Dunbar has to give these boys in aircraft power plant work done after as they brought the greatest opportunity of any school in America. Why is that because of the equipment the enthusiasm of the youngster and the opportunity did lies ahead for them. We have some of the most experienced instructors in America an example Mr Sierra coffee has had over 30 years of experience and
aviation and who came to us from the ford at craft yet planned to become a part of our faculty here. You think these boys are getting a good turn for the jet are they getting the best training possible for the Jedi. The Air Force donated a jet engine to the aviation shop for observation and theory. One of the students explained its operation to me and a jet engine. You have a fuel control it comes through here which is about 14 parts of it and by one particle comes through this lens to this nozzle here and then the fuel is sprayed into the combustion chamber. Then it is ignited by those to look close down at the bottom. I see them. Then it comes on back through here and then when he gets along it has about 7000 pounds of threats it puts out maybe about 14000 horsepower or something like that. In another corner of the shop annoyed Adams was working on a 65 horsepower engine. Why do why do you work on such small engines.
Well we're working on this small engine because the experience that you will get from working with that engine will help you when you start working on the large engines. Have you been a Dunbar long. Yes I started out going to done by now I've been going to for four years now. I graduate in June. My major is aviation. When I graduate I would like to take a CA exam and try to get me and a license what is in the license East and friends and a power plant either one unit called Ready hope work I would like to work on Midway Airport. I would like to be a mechanic on Indian Airlines which come in and they buy every day a test selling the aviation shop has 18 inch reinforced concrete walls and ceiling. A sign above the door reads danger live engine inside the cell is a 9 cylinder 600 horsepower right aircraft engine. Johnny Mitchell's assignment was to make a systematic diagnosis of the trouble in the engine. The trouble had been planted in the engine by an instructor. Joni Mitchell is 17. He's been a Dunbar here in the HOTH. He has a brother in the Air Force. He had done battle with the radio and he wants to go to the Air Force Academy when he gets out. I
stood beside him at the control panel desk outside the test cell. He could see the engine through the window before him on the desk was an engine operation and test shot. Johnny's classmates opened a 12 foot rolling steel door that leads to a fenced in outside enclosure. It receives the engine powerful exhaust and attributes. One boy stood ready with a fire extinguisher. Another turned over the engines propeller. Yeah. Johnny studied his instrument readings listened to the engine adjusted the controls he was looking for symptoms probable causes remedies the safety factor a
supremum commercial aviation. Well airline powerplant mechanics are licensed by the CAA Johnny have you located the trouble yet. Yes I have located the trouble the trouble is in my right mind. My right leg is dropping below normal normal drive busy by doing 45 on my right leg is dropping by more pm. Harder to check you're right my god you watch your RPM and turn it to your right my journeys or my right Mag and I can see that it's dropping below normal so are I switch to switch back and it raises up to the normal RPMs and. I have another troubling me in the sprocket I've missed. And I'm. Far from down on the inside. Done Not draws it students from 20 of Chicago's elementary schools. It is no dumping ground for over age problem bullies. These are average students with an
IQ range from 90 to 100 and 10. There are long lines of applicants waiting to register every form the school regretfully must say no to two to three hundred applicants each year. Dunbar has developed a tradition and a pattern. It makes sense to the community. Was it always as easy as it is now Mr. Simeon. You know in the beginning we had a selling job to do. To whom. To the parents and people of the community and to industry and business. How did you sell the parents in the community. I might say that our graduates for have stood the most effective selling job in the community and they could bring home a check of 60 to 80 dollars and better which was good at that time. The parents and people of the community were SOL. And what about industry as industry became acquainted with our program and came to look upon us as a source of potential skilled workers and as its graduates succeeded on these jobs they too became so.
But Chicago is on its way to becoming a world port a great wild port by 960. It is estimated that you cargo need 500000 to 600000 skilled workers. Dunbar undoubtedly will make its contribution to this army of workers. What do you think Dunbar will have contributed to the community right here in Chicago. A number of years ago graduates of the schools. Look to the community to help them. Now they're able to give themselves as they go out as competent workers they become economically secure and have a stake in the affairs of their community and an interest in the Destiny and affairs of our city. In other words this kind of education makes them give us not take as right a landscaped open courtyard in Dunbar's north wing is surrounded by plate glass walls that extend from floor to ceiling. The accent on glass is heavy in the school's contemporary design. Yet it has been noted that there are fewer
broken windows in Dunbar than in any other school in the city. Charles W. wise is a painting and decorating contractor in the Dunbar area. Mr. Wise how many men do you employ. I have employed as many as 13 men and one time in my business. I try to hire as many graduates of Dunbar as I possibly can. I have employed at least 20 men at various times and I've also encouraged some of my employees to go to Dunbar specifically to learn have hated every field. Mr once took a commercial course in high school. He could take shorthand at one hundred twenty words a minute but he found it impossible to get a secretary's job. He made ladies hats for a while. A job he characterizes as the most strenuous he's ever had. Then he worked in the sanitation department of a munitions plant keeping the powder areas clean. He took a B.S. degree income as at Roosevelt University after the war. He worked for a while as a statistician for Chicago's Housing Authority. That part did you do
Mr. Wise. When I received my degree I always wanted to be in business and I started at Dunbar to learn to paint a decorated feel. What was the tuition fee you paid at that time it was only five dollars a year and I receive half of that back but I finished the school here and I have to have you received a diploma you started your own business and I think you've been out of about seven years but what is the biggest growth you've made on your way in your business Mr. Wise. The largest Gross was around $60000 a year. Bali has always been important to you Mr. Wise to be a businessman. I think that the people in my community should be in business because by being in business we will have to raise our economic level. We have enough doctors we have a lot lawyers I think and we need more businessmen. And by doing that we can raise our own self-respect. Dunbar students are taught how to conduct themselves in job interviews. They are instructed in union conditions under which they will eventually work. Is this major emphasis on
employability Dr Willis the end all of Dunbar's vocational program. It isn't sufficient to just work to run a machine. These people can and should have an opportunity for a thorough programme of education and valving understanding the culture of the past of the present and contribute to its future. Therefore in this vocational school the programme involves Fine Arts English history social studies math and science and I would suggest that many of these courses are more effectively taught than in some other schools because there is always the opportunity to see their use in relation to the subject itself. In this school many more young people will be reached who would not be reached through any other type of problem. Lavelle Williams is a tall pretty 16 year old Dunbar senior. She loves to read swim and play the piano. The teachers often open the music room full of ale so she
can play during her lunch hour. Before she came to Dunbar the best IQ the school ever had was one hundred thirty one. Lavelle Williams has an IQ of one hundred fifty six. She studies physics in the class taught by William L. Mueller but this formula can be used to measure the horsepower that it takes to take an airplane up to 20000 feet. Here's the formula do you remember it. Yes it was horsepower equals force times distance over 550 times the time do you think you know what the different letters stand for. I don't know which force that F means that's exerted on an airplane in this case the F would stand for the weight of the airplane. In which direction of course the airplane's moving forward but it's also climbing isn't it. So the D stands for the distance upward. It is altitude isn't a vector quantity thing. Well it's a vector quantity but we wouldn't have to worry about it being a vector quantity. We'll keep this all scalars going up going up. Yeah
all right now about the 550 that horsepower exerted by one horse. Well that's right OK and the time is measured in seconds. Well all we must do then is merely substitute the numbers in there. Yes right. And the force on the B-17 the weight was somewhere around 60 tons. So we have to take sixty times 2000 pounds of the time. And the distance well the altitude that we defined it to would be in the neighborhood of 20000 feet. We're used to 60 times in 2000. Well up here you have forced 60 tons. But we want it in pounds. Oh I see you use 2000 to change it to time bird to change it into punched LaBelle's father as opposed to clock Her mother works in the Treasury Department. At a recent science fair I love that Williams prize winning exhibit was entitled potential and actual infinity. She has been accepted as an early entrant by the University of
Chicago. Well it's rather unusual for a girl to be interested in science. How did you come by this interest in math and physics. Well when I was in grammar school I used to read books at home and science fiction from the grammar school library and my father found out my interest in science and I was younger he used to take me to the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago and the planetarium. What was interesting to you about science fiction space travel. Yes I used to think I want to be in space travel or help plan a rocket to the moon maybe go on one later after they had been developed. You're serious about that in the future. We want to go on a spaceship to the moon. Yes I would. When you develop that interest what do you do about it in school or do you want a proper high school teacher. Ridgeley Yes I went to Parker and I decided in my sophomore year that I would like to take drafting to prepare myself to become an aeronautical engineer. But one of the teachers said I would be a distraction in the class so I might want to transfer. I transferred here to Denver. I knew they had a science course in math courses
and also I could get machine drafting for a shop. What are some of the Course you've been taking here Dunbar in the last two years. Well when I first entered they gave me a special course in TV physics of the class taught on the television. I've had my math and my science physics chemistry. English civics and so forth. When I entered they sent me to Mr. Curry the school psychologist and he gave me a test and then made my courses around the Test career area nautical engineers are common for women. What about the future do you think there is a career for you. Well I don't know of any women in air you know the engineering but women in everything done by Has rehearsal facilities for choir orchestra and soloists which would make the strings of many a college level music department hum with admiration. A budding collection of basketball track and football trophies is on display in the new homes in a social studies class I heard the students examine the premises of communism capitalism fascism and democracy. Dr Willis What is your cargo's financial
stake in Dunbar vocational high school. The site for the school cost a million ninety thousand dollars. We have spent approximately one million dollars to equip it. We spent for the facility approximately five million dollars. Well that's almost a total of eight million dollars. Chicago apparently can't afford this kind of money can other cities of this size in the United States afford it proportionally. But I would want to point out that this school serves a day school population of about 23 hundred Festing. It also serves an evening school population. It was also designed to provide facilities to be used in connection with 20 acres of open land in conjunction with the park district in the city. Consequently our gymnasium our swimming pool our facility is in showers and other details are designed to be used in connection with this 20 acres of land not only for the students in and rolled in the school but for the community as well.
Why doesn't every city in the United States have vocational high school like Dunbar. I think money set is intended. All right you were active in the meeting held recently by educators to promote the idea. Some of us felt that it would be helpful to will set is open hands. The leaders in the field of vocational education and boards of education. We made an inquiry of a foundation and received a grant to hold such a meeting. Some 10 cities were represented. We've had six aiding grants following the first one and we expect to continue to work cooperatively to find out how we may improve this program in the large cities. Then this program not just for Dunbar or Chicago it certainly is not it is a means to be used in releasing the greatest talents that many young people possess. The great nation in the future will be the nation with many people with many skills skills on all levels. The strong nation will be the nation with its people equipped to do things to be engineers to be
doctors but to be a machine operator belt builders bridge builders highway builders those who will develop the ideas that are coming to our attention the field of electronics. We have come to an ambivalent moment in American education. We are striving to give prestige to the academically talented. At the same time we are realizing the need for ever greater numbers of skilled workers who have the competencies for citizenship as well as the purchasing power of the productive consumer. Ideally vocational and academic education ought not to be separated. Young people seeking a creative level in life want to have the fullest opportunities to explore and to discover what is best for them and to have flexibility of choice. Ideally such flexibility can best be served in a comprehensive high school where stigma and labeling are removed from either the vocational or the academic courses. Perhaps in time this nation will come to believe that education in a democracy
warrants such fusion and the big money it would require. Where economic factors or a special community situation such as exists a Dunbar way heavily in favor of a separate vocational school. Ought we not to follow the Dunbar lead and educate not alone for skill but also for the quality of our people. Vocational education is your mountain to your childrens Mountain your neighbors mountain. Education is everybody's mountain. The recorded series everybody's mountain was written and produced by Robert Louis Shea on for the educational television and radio center. The programmes are distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. The series consultant was Dr Ernest O MELBY professor of education at Michigan State University and former dean of education at New York University. This is the NEA E.B. Radio Network.
Everybody's mountain
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Dunbar Vocational High School in Chicago
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National Association of Educational Broadcasters
National Educational Television and Radio Center
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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A series on educational leadership and imagination in the United States today.
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Narrator: Shayon, Robert Lewis
Producer: Shayon, Robert Lewis
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Producing Organization: National Educational Television and Radio Center
Writer: Shayon, Robert Lewis
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-49-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:30
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Chicago: “Everybody's mountain; 6; Dunbar Vocational High School in Chicago,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 9, 2023,
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