Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Education Heresy

Disclaimer: This is my opinion only and does not represent the opinions of the Libertarian Party or, actually, of any other Libertarians I know of, with a couple exceptions.

This is heresy, to most of you, but I believe our University System is one of the most bloated, bogus, overblown institutions in our country today.

Just read how Cal State San Jose bought a five bedroom, five bath house for $2.5 million to house their University President. I know, that's not that much money for a house in the San Jose area but the fact that the University actually finds it necessary to buy a house for their president speaks volumes to me.

I'm not gonna go into a long rant about the University system right now. I'll wait until the next local news article shows up telling us what a great service HSU provides the community- then, I'll post my own rant. I read a commentary on lewrockwell.com some months ago that really conveyed my thoughts almost to the letter. Sadly, I can't find that article in the archives of the author I thought I remembered having wrote it. So, until I write my rant, I'll let this one written by Al Doyle, posted today on lewrockwell.com suffice. Not as good as the one I wanted, but it will do.


At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Allen Nightingale said...

For info on the cost/dearth of housing in the bay area as well as the reasons for it go to townhall.com and check the archives of Thomas Sowell. Mike Adams also has lots on the problems of "higher education". I also assume you have read the recent posts by Gary North on Lew's site.

BA Poli sci Cal State Long Beach 1964

At 8:16 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Thanks Alan. Yes, I've read some of Gary North's stuff. Still can't find that one commentary on lewrockwell about education that really told it the way it was. Even e-mailed Lew Rockwell yesterday to see if he remembered who it might have been. He didn't.

Then, went thru the archives of every author I thought might have been the one who wrote it but still couldn't find it.

Oh, well. Guess I'll have to write my own.

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

Hmm, do you really truly believe, "our University System is one of the most bloated, bogus, overblown institutions in our country today"? I grant you that the incident you reported on sounds pretty "bloated", even "bogus", but does that really translate to the University system being one of the worst offenders? Are you limiting your definition of "institutions" to public institutions? Personally, I think there is much worse bloating and bogusness in the private sector. The fake California energy crisis being a disgustinly fine example.

At 8:44 AM, Blogger Fred said...

I'm not just referring to spending policy. I'm referring more to the cultural mindset that insists everyone needs a college education to succeed in life. My explanation would be quite lengthy, so I won't post it here just yet. Bear with me. But suffice it to say, I think a great number of people who have attended a university, whether graduating or not, have wasted a lot of their and everyone else's, time and money. How's that for heresy?

At 12:23 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

Well, with that abstract, I'm inclined to believe you have some good points. Bill Gates dropped out of college to start Microsoft. The idea that everyone needs/deserves to go to college is false. I doubt you could convince me of sweeping generalizations based on statements like, "...a great number of people..." and "...have wasted a lot of...time and money", but if you have some more substantial evidence, I'd be interested to hear it.

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Ok, here's part of what I was going to include in my rant:

Meet Marianne: Gets a four year degree from Humboldt State U. I see her some time after she graduated and she's apparently a stay at home mom now. Will she always be one? Maybe not. Perhaps her "education" might help her enter the workplace some years from now but I suggest, assuming her studies were helpful for the job she wants, years from now most of her knowledge in her major will be forgotten. She might just end up being a housewife and have no desire to go back to work since her husband has a well paying job.

Meet Ashley: another one that graduates from four years at HSU. She helped pay her way through school working as an exotic dancer. After she graduated she told me she wanted to learn how to be a bartender as the pay was good. That four years as a history major really helped.

Meet Mason: Not sure but I believe he graduated with two degrees. He can't even keep a job at a gas station for more than a couple months. Of course, he admits it's by choice as he doesn't like having a job.

Meet his brother, Mario: Mario credits me for being part of his decision for not going to college as I walked in on an "argument", of sorts, between him and his father. His father insisted he go to college. He didn't want to go to college. He wanted to start a band and be a "rock star". Mario has his way and is now making his own way in the country western band he helped start with some locals and travels the country playing music. His brother, with the two degrees, is unemployed and his parents are paying his rent, from the way he tells it, to keep him out of the house.

I hate to throw out just a few examples as one can skew the results but I don't think these are isolated examples. I'm sure the majority of those who get their degree end up doing something the degree didn't help them do.

Last example: Mario and Mason's father. A succesful real estate agent in the county. He got at least one degree umpteen years ago. But he makes his living doing something he could (and likely did) start out in just by taking some courses at the local community college.

Yet we're told, if you listen to the President of HSU, that higher education is an absolutely necessary component to assure an "educated workforce". What it boils down to, in real life, is education simply for the sake of the tradition of education.

I strongly disagree with education for the sake of education. I'm not saying doctors or engineers and some other fields don't need a substantial education, beyond the community college level. But for the vast majority of people, I would think if they learn what they're supposed to learn in high school, and then maybe dabble in some stuff in community college, themselves and everyone else will be spared a lot of time and expense and the end result will be the same or better than if someone spends umpteen dollars and four, six or eight years in college.

'Nuff said for now.

At 5:26 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

disclosure: I work in education

Thank you for taking the time to write out your ideas. I appreciate the opportunity to think and write on this topic.

Your underlying premise, although unstated, is money making endeavors are the primary activity we should engage in. A stay home mom doesn't need an education. Education is for making money. It's not a view I subscribe to, but I can understand why you have this view. It's a lot of time and money to major in history, and it seems like a waste to be tending bar after that investment.

Personally, I prefer an educated bartender. People who were required to develop at least a basic understanding of statistics are more likely to be reasonable, logical. You demonstrate that understanding when you state “…just a few examples…can skew the results…” Well said and well appreciated. You’ve used a convenience sample, which doesn’t necessarily invalidate your conclusions, as long as you’re clear on what population your talking about. It might be a reasonable representation of people in Humboldt County. Humboldt County is a particularly poor place to draw a sample of how people use their higher education. How many jobs utilizing her degree did Ashley turn down before turning to bartending? To stay in Humboldt, your career options are limited.

I agree that some people waste a lot of time and money attending college, but I don’t think your examples are representative of college graduates. While I know some people who didn’t use their education in a meaningful way, I know others who work in their field of study (and not just college teachers, I don’t think that counts). I completely disagree with your implication that if a graduate doesn’t enter a career that directly uses their major, they’ve wasted their education. The knowledge base and skills an individual develops while earning their degree have meaningful applications in diverse careers. College is wasted by those who fail to apply themselves.

What do you think of exercise for the sake of exercise?

I understand that your argument is that cost in time and money of higher education is not justified by the benefit it brings society. I strongly disagree. The more of our citizens that can experience the personal growth necessary to achieve a college degree, the stronger the fabric of our culture. A democracy needs educated citizens, higher educated citizens. Your model of just enough training to do your job makes for a pretty bleak world. Give us bread, but also roses.

I don’t believe that everybody should go to college, only those who demonstrate motivation and ability to benefit. I think we need to improve the selection system so that students enter college with clearer goals, and the scammers, those who attend college for the financial aid, are weeded out.

At 10:48 PM, Anonymous Jaime said...

I work in education...(say no more!) LOL!

Fred, I agree with alot of what you say. College is the place to go to learn to be a really good cog in a wheel, how to be a really good employee, and the world needs good employees. For people who want to learn for themselves, think for themselves, earn for themselves, (bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Frank Lloyd Wright, the Wright brothers, Edison, Fred Mangels, etc) college may be (may) a waste of time and government money.
At least tons of government money is funneled up here for HSU...


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