Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Free Education?


From Inside Higher Ed, "Provost Prose" blog 1/18/15

"There is no question that the credentials required for more and more job opportunities include more and more education. Opportunities that in the past required a high school education now require a college degree; opportunities which used to require an undergraduate degree, now require an advanced degree. Often these escalating requirements make sense and, yet, there are certainly times when these changes just serve to reduce the pool of applicants rather than enhance job performance."

Back before grad school, I consulted the classic job-seeker's guide What Color is Your Parachute? for help. One thing that above all the other advice stayed with me over the years is this: HR departments are not there to help you get hired, they are there to weed you out of the applicant pool - to keep you from getting to the person who has the power to hire you. It seems that I am not alone in this perception.

How long has it been since most companies allowed the supervisors and managers in the departments do the interviewing and hiring of new candidates? What is it that uniquely qualifies an HR staffer to determine whether someone will be able to do a job? Yes, yes, I know that many times there are scores or hundreds of applicants for an open position. Surely there must be a more efficient way of handling this than the bureaucratized mess we have in most companies today. 

But my point is really this: all the education in the world isn't going to help much if you can't get into a position where you could get hired for a job. Eliminate some of the process barriers to getting hired; which includes the local, state and federal employment regulations.

From the same Provost Prose blog:

"For as far back as I can remember, our society provided the opportunity for every student to receive an education through high school."  

Well, then you are not remembering very accurately. For the whole of the 20th century, K-12 education was not an opportunity, it was compulsory. The author's parents could have gone to jail if he had not reported to government school on time. Not only was it compulsory, his parents were also compelled by the tax structure to pay for the school (property taxes, most likely) and could go to jail if they didn't pay. This is the unpleasant fact of "free education" that the proponents don't want to talk about. 

Free Education is not free at all. What, are the teachers going to teach for no pay, and the campus staff maintain the campus out of humanitarianism? No, they will still expect to get paid. That means someone has to give them money. That will either be the students directly, by paying tuition, or ALL OF US indirectly by paying additional taxes. 

I continually marvel at the fact that 'educated' people can be so infuriatingly ignorant of this very simple cause-and-effect principle. Education costs money, because it is a service, just like cleaning the streets or installing the plumbing. 

Read this piece from The Huffington Post.

And then this one from Inside Higher Ed

Why do we need more formal education? 

There's also this piece from The Federalist.



 My first two jobs were working as an office assistant for a local special education office, and receiving books from the shippers at a big-box bookstore. Neither of them really needed a person with college education, yet both asked for this in the job description. Why?  

A college education will prepare you for some things, but so will getting a job and doing it well. The jobs that college prepares you for, those should be the ones with a BA/BS requirement. Everything else (which these days even people with Masters degrees are competing for) should be open to folk who are willing to do the work, not just those who have a fancy piece of paper on the wall.


1 comment:

Carol Federoff said...

"A college education will prepare you for some things, but so will getting a job and doing it well." Well spoken!