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ERIC Number: EJ1002564
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Apr-22
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Life after Steel
Mangan, Katherine
Chronicle of Higher Education, Apr 2013
Bobby Curran grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Baltimore, finished high school, and followed his grandfather's steel-toed bootprints straight to Sparrows Point, a 3,000-acre sprawl of industry on the Chesapeake Bay. College was not part of the plan. A gritty but well-paying job at the RG Steel plant was Mr. Curran's ticket to a secure middle-class life. But by the new millennium, bankruptcy rumors swirled with the iron-ore dust that coated aging equipment. The mill was closing for good. That promise of a stable livelihood that generations of high-school graduates banked on has faded. The path to a decent living, many older workers are discovering, now must pass through college, even if that seems like an uncomfortable place. Community colleges pride themselves on helping workers retool, and in the wake of RG Steel's closure, the Community College of Baltimore County stood ready to serve its local residents and economy. But officials at the six-site system knew they faced a monumental challenge in reaching out to 2,000 laid-off workers, most of whom did not have a clue about college. Mr. Curran figured he would try a career in something he knew. He enrolled in an associate-degree program in chemical-dependency counseling, which included general-education courses. Three weeks into the semester, however, he withdrew, finding that he just could not "keep up with the kids." Right now, he is following a new lead. A tunnel-making company is supposed to set up shop at Sparrows Point, and Mr. Curran has applied for a job there. The community college is hoping to help train the tunnel maker's workers, so if campus officials and Mr. Curran both make good pitches, he might get another shot at a college credential.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; Tel: 202-466-1000; Fax: 202-452-1033; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maryland