Guest Post: James Quaglia, Attleboro Resident and CTE Administrator
To anyone who believes that the current Attleboro High School facility can continue
indefinitely, I would respectfully ask that you seriously reconsider your stance. Although the
price tag may at first seem staggering, I can say with certainty, that construction in the modern
era is breathtakingly expensive. Rather than argue over exact dollar figures, I prefer to appeal
to my fellow citizen voters with logic. If we do not act now, with an aging and failing AHS that is
well past its useful life – then when?
I have lived my life in Attleboro and spent my career in the trades and as an educational
administrator, including for a period of time as the head of Career and Technical Education
(CTE) at AHS. As you may have guessed, I support the goal of providing a technologically
enhanced facility for future generations of Attleboro’s learners. And integral to that goal is the
continued support and promulgation of our CTE programs.
I know that some may question the necessity of CTE programs out of a desire for cost
containment. However, the question of whether the elimination of CTE would even yield any
verifiable savings notwithstanding, no one can deny the importance of CTE programs within the framework of the Attleboro Public Schools. Nor should we ignore the deep the roots of
technical, trade and service industries in our city. In my opinion, as we embrace rapid
technological change, we cannot lose site of the importance of training our students to be the
creators and stewards of our physical, societal and technological infrastructures. All of that
begins with the excellent training honed in AHS’s CTE programs.
For decades there has been ample research pointing to the integration of technical education
as a primary means of deep learning. Often overlooked in examining the benefits of CTE is just
how well students excel in their other academic pursuits, including college participation.
Anyone holding on to the anachronistic notion that CTE students cannot or do not attend
college is simply misinformed. The percentage of college enrollment of CTE graduates
statewide is one that rivals many strictly academic districts, and national research shows a
lower dropout rate for college-matriculated CTE grads.
We should be proud of the industrial and blue-collar roots of the Attleboro workforce, and we
should acknowledge the shift over time to residents who work in professional, and importantly,
technical professions. These shifts have precipitated changes in the composition of CTE
programs at AHS, thereby producing graduates who are technologically oriented and eminently prepared for multiple post-secondary options.
The history of AHS (our truly comprehensive high school) has been one of great success. It is now time to support a building project designed to ensure success for decades to come.
James P. Quaglia is a lifelong resident of Attleboro, former tradesperson, former Director of CTE at AHS and former member of the Attleboro Municipal Building Commission. He currently serves as the Superintendent of the Blue Hills Regional Technical School District in Canton and President of the Massachusetts Vocational Administrators Association.