On Both Sides of the Fence….

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To the U.S. technology industry, there’s a dramatic shortfall in the number of Americans skilled in computer programming and engineering that is hampering business. To unions and some Democrats, it’s more sinister: The push by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to expand the number of visas for high-tech foreign workers is an attempt to dilute a lucrative job market with cheap, indentured labor.

The answer is somewhere in between, depending as much on new technologies and the U.S. education system’s ability to keep up as on the immigration law itself. But the sliver of computer-related jobs inside the U.S. that might be designated for foreigners — fewer than 200,000 out of 6 million — has been enough to strain a bipartisan deal in the Senate on immigration reform, showcase the power of big labor and splinter a once-chummy group of elite tech leaders

Source: U.S. technology, labor unions clash on immigration – CBS News.

I seem to fall on both sides of this debate about job related visas. On the one hand in order to maintain our technological dominance in the world we need people who have the skills to continue to innovate and if our populace doesn’t meet this challenge then we need to look elsewhere.

But on the other side, maybe we should be doing more to get our kids to do the work to meet the needs internally. That is a big problem as it seems that many are just not willing to put in the work to make that happen. The common answer to not having enough people with the necessary skills is to put more money into our educational system but that has been the solution for more than one-hundred years now and money just doesn’t seem to bring about the desired results.

I know my teacher friends who frequent this blog will have some comments about this and I certainly welcome them. How do we encourage more of our children to get the advanced education needed for twenty-first century jobs in this country?  To me the first thing is to take the financial roadblock away from them  that prevents many for attending college or trade school.  Many of the more affluent countries in the world  extend free education beyond high school. Why aren’t we one of them. It has been proven time and again that doing this has a very high buy-back.

I see all the studies about how those in Japan, Korea, and several other countries make education for their children their number one family priority.  That attitude instills the mentality of working hard into the children. I can’t understand why so many parents in this country allow their children to drop out of high school! That dooms them to a lifetime of  want and distress. How can any parent think that is enough for their children?

Yes, we need to do something to convince more kids to make a commitment and do the extra work to obtain technical educations. Yeah it is harder to learn physics and calculus but if  taking the challenge doesn’t happen then by all means let’s do what we can to bring in kids from other countries to fill the gap.

5 thoughts on “On Both Sides of the Fence….

  1. Increase on money is no mistake. We are FINALLY seeing qualified people in math and science become teachers- because they are willing to work for the salaries. I think there needs to continue a serious weeding out of poor teachers. It may take another ten years.

    Foeign students, who can pay full university price, are taking spots at our universities. Their countries only educate 1% of their population in univeraity…so the savings for US universities is a driving force for whole villages. Remember most of the world educates only 10% of their population in academics. The rest are trained in skills. We so believe everyone belongs in the same classroom. Not true in most of the world.

    Let the foreign students in. Limit their seats to 20% when they overwhelm a place (Kansas State just did that). Make them US citizens when they graduate. Use their immigrant drive for success a way to push our own students and better our economy and country. Heck, most immigrants (like converts) are much more in love with our country then we are!
    Then, I have always been pro immigration. Again an area in need of serious reform!


    1. Janette, thanks for the input. I pretty much agree with everything you say. I don’t think the money thing, that is pay increases for teachers is going to change much until education become a full time activity. To take three months off in a year is insane. Especially when teachers expect a full years salary with those only getting a couple of weeks. I think most of the rest of the world quit doing summer vacations decades ago.

      In order for the U.S. to stay on a competitive edge we need more of our population in the professional ranks than many other countries. We just can’t compete at the necessary wage levels in the unskilled areas. Does this mean that the middle class is pretty much gone? I don’t know, maybe.


  2. If you want good teachers- you have to pay them. Still the starting salary for a BS in Ed is about 1/4 less then any other full time discipline (40 vs 50,000) The difference between Science in the classroom and science in the field salaries is about $30,000 to start. In Europe, the salaries of teachers compares to other professions. Of course they are not expected to discipline. Those who do not listen are weeded out by tests and not progressed into professional fields.

    What do I find amusing? I made about triple my teaching salary as a sales person for a book company. Why do we constantly have changes in what we teach kids—well, you have to sell books! No other country has competition for selling crap to schools.US book companies are owned by—-South African holding companies!


  3. Those are all fine statistics and comparisons. I however, feel our problems are deeper and much harder to fix. Parents are not raising their children to be self-disciplined and responsible…and perhaps they were not raised that way either. Too many kids today are disrespectful, becoming bullies, are addicted to entertainment, use drugs and alcohol freely, have sex at earlier and earlier ages….and their parents think it is politically incorrect to discipline them or allow schools to punish them for academic failures. Do these kids leave school uneducated because of teacher failure or because they do not have the self-discipline to apply themselves?
    Why are so many more worried about weekend parties and spring break than they are about reality and the future?
    Why do so many leave school and feel entitled to be handed the good life from the get go?
    If you want to compare the US to other countries maybe we need to look at their whole social structure and family dynamics for some answers too. The heart of the problem is with the kids themselves.
    Sure, you can make teachers happy with more money, but look at places like New York City…highly paid teachers do not produce any better students. Weed out bad teachers…great idea too. Won’t make much difference tho.
    Industry and technology may have to take a larger part of training for these specialized jobs. No public school could afford to keep up with the constant changes.
    I sound like a typical old curmudgeon don’t I? Todays kids are going to hell in a handbasket and all that! I’m going back to my rocking chair now.


    1. Jane, thanks for the thoughtful words. You say “the heart of the problem is the kids themselves”. I’m not sure that the kids today are really that much different than other generations but I do put much of it on the parents. Maybe they just see their lives going down the drain and just don’t care about many things of life. I don’t know. I know that those born in the Reagan years have seen a much different world than you and I have so they have different experiences and perceptions.

      But I think you are right in that culture probably has a lot to do with it also. The perception of being privileged seems to be totally engrained in our society whereas that is not the case with many others in the world. Thoughtful words, difficult solutions….


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