Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Education, Not the Cure

A lot has gone into discussing education and spending on education. Both parties love to say "let's spend more on schools". I call BS. I'm a big believer that the current college and university system in the USA is a racket perpetuated by certain interests to kick money to people who do not want to compete for private sector jobs and provide states with revenue to make up for lost industry. This article in 2000 describes the coming breakdown of the education cartel. While I agree that this should be the case, it sadly will not happen anytime soon. Too much money to be made and too many cemented interests that want to keep the status quo. The emphasis on a college degree should be reduced, while simultaneously a stengthening of America's tech schools and community colleges should be achieved.

College is not a need unless companies require it for specific jobs. Science and engineering degrees have direct applications. Consider popular majors that have no bearing on specific jobs unless you go into teaching or the PhD track: english lit, history, political science, and economics. Sure all three can be applied for later jobs sort of in the field, but it's not like those degrees give you an edge versus other people for "good jobs". Unless you become a psychiatrist, does that psych major really help you in corporate america besides being a manipulative bastard? We push children into the college track to diploma mill schools who then don't finish college or finish it in 6 years with a mountain of debt. Entry level jobs in a lot of fields, especially non-profit, do not pay well. We're setting kids up to pay for the rest of their lives for school. What is the gain of getting a degree to get that extra million in earnings over a lifetime if you have to pay off $100K in debt starting at age 22 over 20 years?

Some companies talk about not having enough machinists and high skilled blue collar workers in areas, and these companies would much rather see kids coming out of 2 and 4 year tech and trade schools rather than some dipshit walking out of University of Rhode Island with a C average and a sociology degree they got so they never had to do math in class. For many white collar jobs, could we not fill some positions with capable people who do not have college degrees vs. hiring an english lit major? Yeah that helps in corporate america with product design or risk analysis. If we removed the negative stigma tech and community colleges have, and removed the glory that the generic bachelor's degree carries, we might get kids in better fit situations and better suited for the work world. Part of the problem is we ask 17 year olds to make a decision about the rest of their life when they are jacked up on hormones and confused.

Spending more money on education doesn't make kids smarter. It doesn't. People in India and China don't spend more money on education than us, they just expect more from their kids. My wife is fond of saying college is the new high school. It has become this. Any idiot can get into at least one school. Once in, it's difficult to not finish if you just show up to class. I don't want more spending on school. I want more expected from the kids. Teach the basics and get the kids to know them cold. What about computers and new subjects? What new subjects? Nanotechnology? Matrices? You don't teach little kids that. Teach the basics and set them up to find out what they want for the future. College should be a choice, not a requirement.

College did teach me some important things. I learned how to juggle lots of work, handle lots of stress, make reward-risk decisions about what to study for, and how best I learned. Scientists and engineers should be vocations we want our kids to aspire to in college, not generic english lit/history/econ majors. This is coming from an econ major. In the end, you have to consider who gains from pushing kids into the university system: student loan corporations, universities, professors in need of research assistants... some favorite contributors of the current party in power. The goal of the education system should be to serve the students and to serve society, not to make sure a piece of the pie is securely set aside for them and forever increased with higher tuition, more grants, and loans that can only be avoided if you die.

1 comment:

Students for Compensated Corporate Education said...

Great post! We don't need be spending more on zero-value-added universities! The solution is simple--we must cut out the economically inefficient university middleman and allow students to contract directly with their corporate benefactors and future employers. Students are already organizing to do just that at www.compeded.com