Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Without Keg Stands and the Freshman 15
As an educational system, our curriculum standards are written from grade 3 up for college readiness. If a child fails the college readiness exam, we consider he or she a failure overall. Upon researching school districts, Frisco ISD in Frisco, Texas, a very WASP-y district, boasts that 99% of their students aim for a university education post graduation. Schools everywhere are cutting trade education in favor of hosting more AP classes and intervention periods in which teachers pull specific students for one on one tutorials. Why the urgency? Why the insistence?
President Obama recently signed the health care bill into law and with it a huge overhaul of student loans. He commented on the overhaul, which discards the banks role in student loan lending, by saying "Those were billions of dollars [in interest] that could have been spent helping more of our students attend and complete college". My question is this: Why do MORE of our young adults need to attend college? We have a tremendous educated work force, yet tremendous unemployment; more education does not equal more jobs. More and more companies are outsourcing because Americans are refusing to work cheaply enough to meet said companies budgets. The notion is that if you have an education, you shouldn't have to work at McDonalds, or a road crew, or answering phones for AT&T. You are entitled to a better job, an easier place in life because you slaved and sweated and toiled for your degree. Reed College in Washington state recently refused admittance to a select group of students because they couldn't pay for their education. Of course, the NYT had a field day victimizing these poor, unfortunate souls who were being "discriminated against" because of their inability to pay. By that logic, does Wal-Mart discriminate against me when I can't afford an LCD TV? Higher education is neither required to make a living, and in this day and age, half the time it's not beneficial either.
The highest paying job I've ever had required a GED; the highest earner at that position in that location made over 100k a year. I'll never make that with my B.A. Some of the most respected positions in the community don't require higher education-police officers, fire fighters, paramedics. Why does our government keep insisting that higher education is a right? Is it possible that by enabling us to go to college, the government is really crippling us? In today's college focused educational system (that is derived directly from the government program "No Child Left Behind"), kids are not taught anything about common sense. They learn nothing about child rearing, farming, budgeting, how to maintain a house, or how to fix a car. All they learn is what the textbooks (also censored by government agencies) tell them to know. All I'm allowed to teach as an educator is how to pass a multiple choice test. I should be teaching them how to work hard and earn their keep, how to fill out checks and job applications. Instead, we talk about how to eliminate answers and highlight titles. Eliminating answers and highlighting titles are not real world, real life skills. I'm always one to give the benefit of the doubt, but I'm starting to fear that maybe this is all calculated, all planned. Yes, the government wants to you attend college and become liberal (a documented phenomena). Yes, the government pushes everyone like a herd of cattle that direction. Yes, the government makes it as easy as signing your name to attend university. It is possible that, yes, the government is carefully coercing us to do what it pleases? That's a tad paranoid, but I just can't see the value in emphasizing higher education so vehemently. Society needs educated people, but we need skilled people just as much. We need landscapers, and food servers, and janitors. Those positions are hard work and when done correctly, can foster confidence and instill the values that our grandparents held so dear-dignity, self-respect, and humility. I'll take a person with those qualities any day over someone who has a 3 dollar piece of paper to prove that they learned the difference between transcendentalism and romanticism.
If the actual education is what is of value, then why isn’t the government creating 60 billion dollar budgets for local libraries! The local library can teach you mountains more than any four year education. The problem is, the issue at stake here is not the actual acquisition of knowledge; the issue is that for whatever reason, the federal government wants young people to physically attend college. College attending voters came out in record numbers to vote for Barak Obama; could the democratic party be leaning on that trend to continue and hence the addendum to the health care bill? Perhaps this is all ideological, and the higher ups in D.C. believe that people have a right to higher education. I'm fairly sure there is no moral code, religious or otherwise, that states that education leads to happiness or emotional health. Our constitution does not promise "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of the MBA." Higher education is simply an option, right for some, and not for others. Holding a degree makes me no better, no higher, no more morally or ethically sound than anyone with one. To suggest so would be elitist, arrogant, and myopic. Yet, that's what our government-run school systems do every day. We come down on children and make them feel like failures to society if they are not the picture perfect Berkley kid or MIT prodigy. Higher education needs to be a privatized sector with capitalism at it's core; those who wish to go can get their paper route at 14 and start saving up. Those that don't wish to go should be encouraged to trade schools, family businesses, or just a good job. That would put money back into our economy, create jobs for AMERICANS, and maybe even pull out of this slump we've delved into so willingly.
So, while college may be lots of great things, it's also four years you could be earning a salary, having babies, traveling the country, reading books of your own choosing, or otherwise enriching your life without keg stands or community showers or the freshman 15, and I could've told you all that without my degree.