It is interesting watching two grown men argue about higher education. Santorum has called Obama a snob as he said that he wanted everyone to have a four year college education. The Obama backing off and saying he wanted more than just high school highlights a serious subject to consider. What should you do after high school?
I was with a client last fall and the room had about eight people. Three had Doctorates and four had Masters Degrees. I was the only person in the room without a degree, although I did have four years University training. I was wondering with all the educated people how were the “non-educated” going to make out. The problem today is that for many bachelor level degrees the level of Actual knowledge is not far above that which a high school leaving delivered several decades ago.
I keep watching the debates about education. We need smaller class sizes or higher teacher salaries. Several years ago I was asked to look at a project for the Los Angeles Unified School District. I think this is still one of the largest districts in the country. They asked me to look at their mobile equipment, school buses and the like, for maintenance and repairs. I asked to see the inventory list. They said they didn’t have one. Perhaps that is the first indication of some the problems in education. How is it being run? Well the first obvious area to look is at the school board level. Now you have to remember I am biased. I am a teacher. But one of the first places I would look is the school boards – or more importantly all positions in education that are not in the classroom. The ratio is all upside down. We have too many people doing things that are not in the classroom and not enough in the classroom. But that is the result of the political position for education. Everyone wants a job but not enough know what to do.
Which brings me back to the current debate university or everything else?
Look at the cost of a four year “College” education and compare that to the earnings of four more years of a work life. Today there is almost a $500,000 difference. At university faculties we are starting to have more vigorous debates about the value of the junior colleges and trade schools. The American public has been conditioned over the past four or five decades to want to have a degree for their children. Consider that an article in a recent Forbes magazine noted that 15% of parking lot attendants have a college degree. I don’t think that was what was intended with the push of parents to have their children have a degree.
Today there is what is called a “skills” gap. We have lots of job openings which for one reason or another go unfilled.
There is a huge need for technicians in America. Where are we going to get them?
This is a problem that won’t go away. In the 1900’s the under educated could pursue a worthwhile career and life in agriculture. In the 1950’s that became the production line. What is the prospect today for the under educated? We need to get our arms around this problem and start to fix it or ewe truly will have a lost generation… or two. The time is now.