More Education

MORE EDUCATION

‘Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but teach him to fish, and he will eat forever.’  Every time someone says this, look out for your wallet; they want to steal your money.  ‘What we need is retraining so people can access the jobs of the future’.  Again, change the password to your 401k, because someone is coming after it.  Without falling for the aphorism, think for a moment.  How do most people learn to fish?  Really, what is to learn?  You take a pole, put a fishing line on it, put a hook and a worm on the line and throw in the water.  When the fish bites—pull it out.  There, now give me $2,000 for teaching you to fish.  Want more sophisticated information:  watch a fishing show on Saturday afternoon.  Oh, I hear the critics now; fishing is a metaphor for the high tech jobs of the future.  Right.  Okay, I will teach you how to be a home energy retrofitter.  I will even give you a certificate for it.  Here it is.  Go to Home Depot and ask a guy in an orange vest and he will tell you what to do.  Caulk windows, check.  Insulation, check. Storm windows, check.  Now give me $2,000 federal dollars for teaching you this. You want a real high tech job?  Get a degree in engineering.  The amount of federal dollars floating around has created an education industry.  Look at all the BS Colleges online, or at strip malls, to teach the young and unemployed to get a career in an “exciting” field.  All of these will help the students get federal grants and loans to pursue an education, but they do not get you a job.  Ten years ago every one of these schools was teaching students to use a computer.  Of all of you people out in internet-land, how many of you took a course in how to use a computer? Most just bought a computer and started using it.  Lesson one; push the “on” button.

“We need to spend more money on k-12”.  Why? Is there any correlation between spending on education, and student test scores?  No, but there is a big correlation between what the government spends and teacher pensions.  Now I don’t want to begrudge teachers getting paid, but don’t tell me the money is for the kids.  It isn’t.  Don’t BS us with feel good worthless arguments. For a real education, look at the statistics for how much we spend per student. For kicks, look at  the countries that have test scores higher than our kids, and see what they spend per student.  Doesn’t it make sense that the lower teacher/student  ratios, the better the education?  It does mean that we get more union member teachers, but it doesn’t help test score.  We do it because it sounds good.  Anytime someone tells you:  “It stands to Reason”, you’re being conned.  If something actually is true, there will be an argument other that “It sounds like it will help”. 

Head Start.  We need to give disadvantaged kids a head start in education, oh, and it is “for the children.”  Why don’t we buy them leather briefcases, or give them free haircuts, or three piece suits.  The results would be the same. Well, not quite, they would at least get a haircut, suit and a briefcase.  Head Start gives them nothing. Head Start sounds good, but there is NO EVIDENCE it helps kids.  It is a total waste of money.  But we won’t get rid of it because whoever suggests that will be “Declaring War on Women” or “Wanting Poor Kids to Fail”.  So, because no one will tell truth, or because the voters are easily swayed by empty promises, we continue to have programs that fail us. We fall into the same trap with drugs:  “What we need is education”.  What the Hell does that mean?  Do we need to pay someone to tell kids drugs are bad?  Exhibit A: We have the DARE program.  How successful was that:  zip.  But it plays into the paradigm that education is good, and we need to do something, so let’s have an education program.  And also, “it stands to reason that it would help”

Seriously, the hair on your neck should stand on end every time someone says one of the following:

“It is for the children.”

“It stands to reason.”

“We need to educate…”

“Invest in education”

“Teach people the jobs of the future”

I am sure someone will find some statistic that shows a positive benefit from some of these programs.  So what?  If you gave me 100 million dollars, I could find one at-risk kid and make him a doctor.  Is that a good use of tax dollars?  Of course not.

All of these platitudes mean we are getting sold something.  Someone wants to make money.  Someone wants to get our money for something that does not work.  Don’t fall for it.

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