The jobs are there, the education is not…

Source: The jobs are there, the education is not – USATODAY.com.

This disparity has come to be known as the “skills gap” — the divide between the jobs American businesses need to fill and the jobs Americans are qualified to do. Research shows that approximately 90% of the jobs in the fastest-growing occupations in our economy require some level of postsecondary education and training. And 80 million to 90 million adults today — about half of our current workforce — do not have the skills needed to acquire or advance in jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage. Where once we had a significant advantage in the global economy, our nation is quickly falling back to the pack and is growing increasingly unable to compete with nations such as China, Canada, Germany, India, and Korea.

The proposed GOP budget set up my the vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan proposes a 30% reduction in spending on education. In fact Mr. Ryan actually believes that the Department of Education should be eliminated and that we should have fifty different versions of what makes for adequate job training…

I started out as an electrical engineer and ended my career as an information technology team leader. Looking back I probably was not that well suited to be an engineer but due to not having any counseling advice I didn’t really know what my skills, some say gifts, were. There was just no funding for that in my little rural high school. But at least I did get an education to advance my skills in one area.  I was the first one in my family to even go to college so that was quite an accomplishment that I am proud of.  The quality of education in this country continues to be quite literally all over the map. If I had gone to one of the big city Indianapolis schools I would likely have been led into a different field that was more attuned to my gifts.

Perhaps the saddest part of the above quote is that there are so many who are still dropping out of high school especially in the rural areas and States. When we need to be increasing our spending on our education system there are those in the GOP that want to continue to cut it.  Because of this lack of funding at the federal level college education both two and four-year degrees continue to cost more and more. That fact is causing many in the lower-income families to be doomed to minimum wage living in the future.

We should be doing everything possible to ensure that none of our citizens drop out of high school and to make post secondary education the norm in this country. I guess I need to do a study on just why people drop out of high school before completion. Is it due to circumstances, boredom, or just lack of motivation?

11 thoughts on “The jobs are there, the education is not…

  • That would be an excellent study to do- one on high school drop outs.
    I look forward to your assessment. Will you look into your district first?
    I agree that more money needs to be spent on educating the best and the brightest. We spend about 1/5 of the school budget on special education in our district (about 10% of our students). Gifted education is not funded by federal money.

    Our district just spent $90,000 on new trees in front of my school. It was a shovel ready project grant from the federal government! Our drop out rate is about 30%. The reading program was eliminated last year because we did not have the money to pay for it….

    You might not have been well suited for engineering—-but you had enough education to get into the door and gain the degree. If I could say that every student I taught had enough math and thinking training to become an engineer—my door would be busting down with parents attempting to get their kid in my school. YOU are the example of what many people think this education system should be producing!
    I would say- with the resources that most schools had- you are a fine product of US school systems. If they are alive, you should thank your teachers!

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  • Thanks for the additional info and the kind words Janette. Yes, I do deem myself fortunate that I was able to get a college education even though it was not in the area that I ended up shining in. As you say that gave me the foot-in-the-door to move on to where I belonged. I did pay my own way through college but I’m not sure a kid from a poor family could even do that now. We need to make college/tech school as available as high school is now if we ever hope to compete in this ever more technical world. I remember years ago reading an article from American Heritage magazine about the 1890s where this same topic of education was discussed in the same way as here. This is not a new issue…

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  • Do you really think it’s the cost of secondary education that is the issue? I just don’t see it that way. Local public colleges, particularly two year colleges, are still within reach to almost everyone. I put myself through our 2 and 4 year public college system at very little cost in the 90’s, and it was still affordable when we put our two daughter’s through same between 2001 and 2008. All three occurring during periods of rapid tuition increases by the way.

    I found this very interesting quote recently, and I think it pretty much hits the nail on the head: “In an effort to keep all students from feeling less than bright, the system is stifling academic thought and not challenging students enough. More and more, say experts, students are demanding higher grades, often simply for completing the basics of their courses.” (See full article at http://diversitymbamagazine.com/how-the-educational-system-is-failing-to-prepare-us-youth-to-be-competitive)

    And why are students being coddled like this? Because their parents, us, are demanding it! What the heck do we parents think we are doing? We’re undermining the entire future success of our children. Life isn’t fair and as and as an adult, surprise, you are not going to get a trophy just for showing up on the soccer field.

    I firmly, passionately, believe education begins at home. Somewhere along the way we parents stopped demanding excellence from our kids. Our schools are simply a reflection of our own core values.

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    • Hi Tamara, thanks for your heartfelt words. I just checked my alma mater and found that the annual costs for Purdue, which is a State college, is about $25,000 per year. When you come from a family that lives week to week this would be an impossible load. If you work full time (40hr/week for 52 weeks) at minimum wage you earn about $19,000. So I will stand by my post here. I did it by working 40-50 hours per week but it took me five years as I just didn’t have the time to study for a full course load. I don’t know how I survived on 3 – 4 hours of sleep for all those years. I don’t think what I did is even possible today.

      Trying to teach at the least common denominator is a problem with the system especially in low funded rural schools that don’t have advanced learning and/or special ed classes (or whatever they are now called). Most of the time in grade school and high school I was bored out of my mind and that was 50 years or so ago. So this is not a new thing.

      Like Janette always calls me out on I think you might be painting with too broad a brush when you say parents demand their children be coddled. I suspect there are many who celebrate when their children are challenged to learn.

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  • RJ, the 2012 – 2013 resident tuition at Purdue is only $9,900 per their website, well within reach for a student commuting from home and working part time, even if student loans needed to be taken out. I don’t accept that living away from home (i.e. on campus) is a requirement to attend college. In my own case, as an example, economics at being in the midst of raising my own family required I attend a nearby college and commute, which I did. The passion I brought to my studies resulted in my graduating at the top of my class and having multiple job offers awaiting me, in spite of the economy being solidly in the tank in the year 1995.

    I would also suggest those children you speak of in your last paragraph are not the ones being found lacking in skills by today’s employers.

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    • Here is the page I am using. http://admissions.purdue.edu/costs/tuitionfees.html
      As shown if you live at home and are very close to the campus the cost would be around $14,500. If you have to drive much it would probably be at least $16,000 and that does not include the cost of a car/insurance/etc. I lived about 100 miles away from campus so commuting would not have been an option even it I had had a car which I didn’t until graduation (I just couldn’t afford it). Not everyone lives close to a college as you apparently did.

      I am happy that you were very fortunate to have all the things come together to make college affordable. I was fortunate to be able at least afford it myself. I talked about two different kids in the final paragraph, kids being coddled, and kids being challenged so I am not sure of your reference there. But any kid who does not have the option of continuing education is at risk.

      But in the end you are right in that what it mainly takes is motivation and confidence in your abilities. If you have that you can overcome most obstacles. I even did it (without the confidence); you did it but there are many who don’t.

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  • RJ, I thought you might appreciate knowing that I pondered our exchange as I was out running just now, and I’ve decided it’s long past time that I do something I’ve been meaning to . . . volunteer as a tutor in the one school in my city that struggles to get enough parent involvement due to language and economic challenges in the homes of many of it’s students.

    As with any thoughtful exchange, there is usually much food for thought left behind for both parties, so I do want to thank you for being willing to at least consider what I had to say, and, of course, vice versa.

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    • Tamara, that is great!!! I am so happy to be even a small part of the reason you have decided to volunteer as a tutor. I’m sure the kids you work with will be enriched by you help.

      Yes, that is one of the good things about actually listening to each other. We share experiences and each learn something. I just wish our politicians could learn from us normal folks how to do that.

      Tutoring is something that I have wished I could do but being deaf that is not much of a possibility. But, then again my volunteer work for the last nine years at a local homeless shelter/soup kitchen takes most of my free time and is also very rewarding.

      Good luck with tutoring. I’m sure you will get as much from it as the students you are helping. You certainly made my day with your decisions. Way to go girl………..

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  • Leaving educational standards and direction to each state would be a disaster. If a family moves from one state to another it is entirely possible that there would be little continuity between the quality and even course offerings between those two states.

    I know that in Arizona if our nutcase legislators completly controlled education we’d be using McGuffy’s reader and ending eduction at 8th grade: “if it was good enough for my father it is good enough for you. Liberals control the schools.”

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    • Hi Bob. Like Indiana where I live I can’t image “liberals” controlling anything in Arizona 🙂

      But I certainly agree that we need an overall strategy for education that is common across the country. So I hope those “conservatives” don’t shut down the Dept of Ed as they seem to be planning if they get hold of all the power.

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    • The legislature in AZ put out vouchers.Arizona has some of the top (and low bottom) schools in the nation. Arizona also leads the nation in independent school boards. The school boards—not the legislature—controls curriculum. The legislature controls how schools teach (English only), but the books are local control. Again—all politics are local. How conservative is your school board? Looking into that background is important!
      “Liberals” control many sections of Arizona RJ. Tucson is the home of Udall! he and Barry Goldwater used to share a jet to visit their families on the weekends!
      Feeling a bit homesick right now. Kansas is completely controlled by the state :<(

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