Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On Education

The writer of a blog I visit often, was bemoaning in a posting the state of public education in the State of California, where she used to teach.

She asked despairingly, “What's wrong with California Public Education?”

In a comment to the posting, I said:
Better to ask, what’s wrong with public education everywhere?

A problem is that public education hasn’t responded adequately to the huge changes in society, particularly the huge changes in the way people now earn a living.
The compulsory education of children should be only to the point where they can handle a job at the likes of a McDonald’s. So they should be able to add and subtract in order to give out the correct change, and be able to operate a cash machine or even a personal computer, and to write English well enough to compose a letter accompanying a job application.

This is because most jobs in the New Global Economy require skills no more complicated than needed to work at a McDonald’s. Consider the shop-assistants, waiters, salesmen and assorted hucksters, truck-drivers, window-washers, clerks, janitors, hot-dog stand operators etc. You don’t need rocket science to do what they do. You just need a grade 8 education or less. These jobs comprise 80% of all jobs in the New Global Economy.

So then, what about the other 20% of jobs? What about the engineers, doctors, nurses, mathematicians, computer-programmers, economists and scientists? Where will they come from?

From outside America, that's where.

Why should the American taxpayer have to pay to produce scientists, doctors, engineers and their like, when they can be imported ready-made from beyond America's shores?

Consider the current practice of America's corporations in re-locating their manufacturing plants and service operations to third-world countries whose costs of labour are minuscule compared to those at home.

The captains of industry have learned that it’s cheaper, and therefore more efficient, to import goods than produce them at home. It follows that it's cheaper and therefore more efficient, to import highly trained and educated workers than to produce them in America.

Subjects like history, political science, geography, social studies, literature, foreign languages, music, painting, and other touchy-feely non-manly subjects, need no longer be taught in America's schools. You don’t, for instance, need to know where Malawi is, or who Abraham Lincoln was, to work at McDonald’s. You just need some arithmetic, a knowledge of basic sentence construction, elementary computer skills, and some psychology – the better to use in persuading customers into consuming what is unhealthy for them, or otherwise don’t need. For class reading, students need read no more than the works of Donald Trump or Lee Iaccoca.

The result would be more efficient use of schools, since they would no longer waste time and money teaching Arts and Humanities, an immersion in which also makes young people uppity. It isn't a coincidence that a high percentage of militant union leaders and political agitators have been schooled in the Arts, History, or Political Science.

Education budgets under this plan, would be a quarter of what they are now. Americans would thus pay less in taxes, and so would keep more of their hard earned money to do with as they please.

Nothing would stop any American learning the higher skills or becoming educated in the Arts and Humanities. He would simply pay for it from his own pocket. No longer would his children be forced to learn all that Shakespeare, or all that Moliere, if he doesn't want them to. If he wants them to, he himself would pay for it, not the hard-working taxpayers.

This wouldn’t mean the end of Harvard, Yale, UCLA, and the other hallowed institutions of higher learning. They would continue, but all their fees and revenues would come from the pockets of their students, or, more likely, the pockets of their parents.

Most of their students would likely be from outside America. But the entire costs of studying at an American university, regardless of nationality of the student, wouldn’t cost the hard-working American taxpayer a nickel.

Implement this education plan, and American education, and not to say the Californian, would once again be the envy of the world.

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