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"But I am still here. And I’ll be damned if I’ll stand by and watch them take it all away."
Mike Rowe is back with a brand new video about hard work and the "demise of vocational education," which is just as inspiring as his Walmart ad. However, this particular video was inspired by a specific situation currently impacting the small town of Ottawa, Ill.
The school board in the town recently voted to discontinue the building trades program at Ottawa Township High School and fired instructor Dave Keely.
Students, parents and tradesmen came together last week to protest the school board’s decision. Students held U.S. flags and homemade signs advocating for the reinstatement of the building trades program.
The school responded by slapping 130 students with three-day suspensions for being “disruptive to the educational process,” the local newspaper reports. Some were also reportedly banned from their senior prom.
Rowe responded to the story on his website, ProfoundlyDisconnected.com, and then followed up with an inspiring video. Though he admitted he generally doesn’t support many “protests,” he said he stands with the students at Ottawa Township High School.
“I can’t speak to their motives. I have no idea if they care more about the teacher, or more about the demise of vocational education. Maybe they’re just bored high-schoolers looking to snap the monotony of a long winter,” he writes. “But either way, if I could be there with them, I would. Because I like what’s happening. I like that these kids are willing to suffer the consequences of speaking their minds. I like that the local trade unions are supporting them. I like that the press is covering it. But mostly, I like that somebody is standing up for the skilled trades. Finally. In a place where it really matters.”
That brings us to Rowe’s new video, titled “I Am a Woodshop.” It uses the same general template as the popular Walmart ad he narrated, replacing "work" and manufacturing with "wood" and building trades programs.
Here’s the full text of the narration in the video:
At one time, I made things, and I took pride in the things I made. And my band saw buzzed, and my table saw sang. And I opened my doors to all, and together we built chairs, and sconces, and birdhouses, and, well, whatever that thing is.
But then one day, they pulled the plug and the building trades were gone.
But I am still here. And I’ll be damned if I’ll stand by and watch them take it all away. They can suspend me, they can banish me from the prom — I really don’t give a crap. Because some things are more important than dancing.
It’s time to get back to what Ottawa does best, because wood is a beautiful thing.
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