Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Educational System Failure

Bringing the jobs back home might be easier said than done. The American educational system, run by the same teachers unions that are up in arms about Betsy Devos, is apparently not doing a very good job of educating children.

Teachers are very fortunate that their salaries are not related to student performance.

When the German engineering company Siemens Energy opened a gas turbine production plant in Charlotte, N.C., some 10,000 people showed up at a job fair for 800 positions. But fewer than 15 percent of the applicants were able to pass a reading, writing and math screening test geared toward a ninth-grade education.

“In our factories, there’s a computer about every 20 or 30 feet,” said Eric Spiegel, who recently retired as president and chief executive of Siemens U.S.A. “People on the plant floor need to be much more skilled than they were in the past. There are no jobs for high school graduates at Siemens today.”

Funnily enough, it’s not about having a high school education. These job applicants could not pass at test geared toward ninth grade students. The world of educational testing has shown over and over again that American children cannot compete against their peers in many other countries. Count this as further, and more practical evidence of this phenomenon.

How to solve this problem? Should we send more students to college? Or do we send too many children to college? Unfortunately, if you think that elementary and high school education is bad, college is a racket to end all rackets. It’s yet another instance of what happens when the free market is stifled.

Anyway, the Times does not see any great advantage to sending more unqualified candidates to college:

Even if those jobs returned, a high school diploma is simply no longer good enough to fill them. Yet rarely discussed in the political debate over lost jobs are the academic skills needed for today’s factory-floor positions, and the pathways through education that lead to them.

Many believe that the solution is for more Americans to go to college. But the college-for-all movement, which got its start in the 1970s as American manufacturing began its decline, is often conflated with earning a bachelor’s degree.

Many high school students rush off to four-year campuses not ready for the academic work or not sure why they are there. Government data show that 44 percent of new graduates enroll directly in a four-year college, but based on recent trends, less than half of them will earn a degree within four years. And though two-year colleges have long been identified as the institutions that fill the job-training role, some 80 percent of community college students say they intend to go on for a bachelor’s degree, or they leave with generic associate degrees that are of little value in the job market.

Students go off to college, but they do not have the skills to do college level work. And besides, what are they taught in college: how to protest for social justice?

In other countries, students can choose between a liberal arts education, and an apprenticeship program that prepares them for good-paying jobs.

In America such programs are occasionally sponsored by corporations themselves. Clearly, it is far too little, considering the need and the demand.

The Times tells about how it works at John Deere:

Faced with a skills gap, employers are increasingly working with community colleges to provide students with both the academic education needed to succeed in today’s work force and the specific hands-on skills to get a job in their companies. John Deere, for example, has designed a curriculum and donated farm equipment to several community colleges to train technicians for its dealer network. About 15 to 20 students come through the program at Walla Walla each semester. Because they are sponsored by a John Deere dealership, where the students work for half the program, most graduate in two years with a job in hand. 

Siemans did something similar in Charlotte:

Struggling to fill jobs in the Charlotte plant, Siemens in 2011 created an apprenticeship program for seniors at local high schools that combines four years of on-the-job training with an associate degree in mechatronics from nearby Central Piedmont Community College. When they finish, graduates have no student loans and earn more than $50,000 a year.

Apparently, there is bipartisan support for apprenticeship programs in America. One suspects that university system, needing more warm bodies to justify itself, will oppose this.

The Times explains:

Here in the United States, most students are offered a choice between college or a dead end. The college-for-all movement, it seems, has closed off rather than opened up career options. For working-class voters who feel left out in this economy to be able to secure meaningful jobs, educational pathways must be expanded and legitimized — in the process redefining and broadening what is meant by higher education.

One cannot help but agree.


Trigger Warning said...

The Germans and Austrians (although, like President Obama, I don't speak Austrian) have the best apprenticeship ed tracks in the world. We should copy them. But then we wouldn't have time to teach community activism, Gaiaism, and self-esteem.

When the decision to make high school graduation (and even college) universal was made, it ignored the brute fact that differences in academic ability naturally result in students precipitating out as complexity increases. So we must moronify curriculum to fulfill The Narrative and meet the needs of students like Dindu Nuffin.

JK Brown said...

A clear example of what foreign students understand, but most American college students don't, especially those who waste their college opportunity in the Liberal Arts.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I find it amusing that these riots -- these violent circuses of fear and ignorance -- are called "protests." These are not protests.

These are willful displays of violence and intimidation in order to silence alternative views at a state- and federally-funded establishment of higher learning. That is no different than telling someone on the other end of a gun barrel what to do. The means are merely different, and barely at that.

If views cannot be heard or tolerated on a college campus, then the university as traditionally understood is dead.

UC Berkeley is held as one of the world's finest university across a huge range of disciplines. If it can be taken over and a thought leader can be silenced for his views, then the university is no longer about the free exchange of ideas and academic freedom. Instead, incidents like this and countless others are showing us that our education system is becoming politically totalitarian, allied against the mind of man.

Such an institution does not need nor merit public funding. And indeed our next step is to remove the medieval concept of lifelong academic tenure for the professoriate, as it seems to not promote the free exchange of ideas, but instead empowers learned cabal to become an agitprop organ, united against ideas it doesn't like. Tenure has not brought academic diversity, it has quashed it.

The time for decision has come. If the university will not hear nor heed impassioned pleas for it to return to its core mission, then it is acting outside societal interest and does not need nor deserve the monies required for its operation. Let them go private and grovel for their share of the people's wallets. Taxpayer funding and loan guarantees have fueled the meteoric rise of university tuition. Time to turn off the spigot that's been flowing for 40 years, and has turned our colleges into Leftist seminaries. Police your own behavior, or the tap will be turned off.

What a disgrace.

Trigger Warning said...

IAC, Berkeley may be viewed as one of the world's finest, and the technical faculty surely is, but a lot of the students are knuckle draggers.

"Alexandra Morales of Echo Park ... was a high-achieving student — editor of the newspaper at Belmont High School, member and initiator of several campus clubs. Those activities and her grade point average helped get her into UC Berkeley. But as she approached college, she admitted to herself that she wasn’t ready for the writing assignments to come."

Remedial english for the affirm action grade inflation failures.

Of course, the faculty that makes Berkeley famous wouldn't be caught dead teaching intro classes with the likes of Ms Morales in them. Those classes are for TAs and adjuncts hired off the street.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

TW, My point is this: if UC Berkeley is one of our finest, and a bunch of morons can shut down views they don't like or agree with, then it is de facto (a) a technical school and (b) an ideological seminary. One of these is deserving of public investment, while the other should be shut off. One moves our country forward to greater engineering/scientific possibilities, the other is a destabilizing, ideological machine to mint more pathetic snowflakes who are so fragile they cannot listen to another point of view. Oh, wait... they're not alone: there are journalists, too.

Trigger Warning said...

Well, I don't disagree that the student "loan" program, and other forms of federal academic welfare, should be terminated. It would have a major impact on tuition and the size of administrative departments. It's a modern truism that the antonym of university is diversity. But I say, let them raise hell. After all, SF is the city with a website to help tourists avoid areas with extensive public defecation, and, as of 2013, cavorting naked in public requires a parade permit. The events on campus are all part of a larger gestalt.

Leo G said...

Four words, Mike Rowe.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Leo G: Spot on!

Linda Fox said...

Because tracking according to interests (serious academic studies, training for a job, and Hey! High School is for FUN!) is a BIG no-no, we lump them in together, and pretend that we are preparing them for college.

Oh, except, we STILL track, except we call it:
- Gifted and Talented
- Honors
- AP
- IB
- Middle College

That's how the upper-middle class keeps their own kids from being dummied down by the masses. As soon as the program shows real promise in terms of properly educating those kids who are serious about academics, the Entitled Special Ones (trademark pending) start protests to force the programs to let their kids in - whether they have the skills or not. Naturally, the program suffers, as they can no longer give honest grades for sub-par work, since it will disproportionately affect the ESOs (see above). Over time, the UpMids realize that their kids are NOT being challenged enough.

After a brief pause, the UpMids find a way to start a NEW program.

And that, kids, is why we have so many programs for the academically upper kids, and so few for the rest of them.