Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Send them around to the tradesman's entrance..."

Coyote Blog called my attention to a piece of the most fantastical news: Congress wants to crack down on people learning a trade.

Here is yet another unintended consequence of the .gov commandeering the entire student loan business. First, by guaranteeing student loans, they caused the price of higher education to balloon crazily (if the .gov did for GMAC what they did for student loans, a Chevy Cobalt would cost like a Ferrari Enzo.) Now they get to sit and ponder which institutions are worthy of receiving their checks:
Under a proposal to be released today, vocational programs in which a large share of students don't earn enough to pay back their loans would be required to disclose debt burdens and could become ineligible for federal financial aid dollars.

The proposal covers training programs of less than two years that provide credentials for careers in fields such as the culinary arts, medical support and automotive technology.
I see. They're worried about people going to school to actually learn how to do something, such as hook up a router, empty a bedpan, or change a timing belt. They're afraid that these won't have a big payoff, since at the end, all you have is an auto mechanic or an IT drone. I can't come up with a better snarky rejoinder than Coyote's:
No word yet on whether they are looking into students who spend four years and $160,000 for Ivy League gender studies degrees, which we all know have simply enormous income-generation potential.
I can't help but feel that it's right after this part that we all die from a plague caused by an unsanitized telephone.

58 comments:

Boat Guy said...

Snarky rejoinder, aye.
I immediately thought back to a recent sob-story about some poor lass who went waaaay into hock for her "gender and religious studies degree" and was blaming CitiBank for loaning her the money to squander on such idiocy. Poor thing was eking out a living in San Francisco (her degree was from an eastern institution) working as a "photographer's assistant" if memory serves.
The idea to eliminate aid for trade schools probably has something to do with the excellent programs at Trinidad State Junior College and Colorado School of Trades both of which are turning out gunsmiths - the horror!

Bruce H. said...

Why assume it was an unintended consequence. Cf. Steven den Beste's "paranoid explanation."

Lissa said...

Don't you listen to Michelle Obama? We could do those nasty, dirty jobs like plumbing and automobiles . . . or we could be NOBLE and UNSELFISH and MORALLY RIGHTEOUS and go into public service.

I spose it's too much to hope that the White House plumber occasionally makes a purposeful boo-boo?

Anonymous said...

Fear, perhaps some relevant research before assuming this is a conspiracy to slam trade schools called for. This provision has already been on the books for 4 year universities for a long time. The idea is that as taxpayers we should not be subsidizing educations that don't provide jobs that pay back the loans. In fact, with the current employment problems many private colleges are getting dangerously close to losing their federal aid packages and loan eligibility.
Tam is exactly right about it increasing the costs of higher education, but this is the kind of thing that is designed (poorly, I will admit) to cap those costs.

Tam said...

"The idea is that as taxpayers we should not be subsidizing educations..."

Actually, you could have stopped right there.

Ken said...

...(if the .gov did for GMAC what they did for student loans, a Chevy Cobalt would cost like a Ferrari Enzo.)

Wait.

jimbob86 said...

They want control and dependency. They'll subsidize anything that makes that easier: Gubmint employees to man the red tape machines and enough tort lawyers to make small business unpossible.

Meanwhile, they will penalize anything that makes truly free enterprise possible: Joe the (unliscenced) Plumber will be a wanted man....

theirritablearchitect said...

"...They're worried about people going to school to actually learn how to do something, such as hook up a router, empty a bedpan, or change a timing belt. They're afraid that these won't have a big payoff..."

This seems odd to me.

Back when I was working at an VW/Audi dealership, the master mechanic there was easily pulling down about 80K a year.

I realize this is probably not typical of your local grease monkey oil-and-lube joint, but it is possible to make a substantial living if you are good at fixing automobiles, especially of the imported and/or exotic sort.

RevolverRob said...

We never should have established the social standard of everyone going to college and getting a bachelor's degree. I got a canned B.A. in Anthropology, oh how useful is that? Well, I got a pretty certificate to hang on the wall in my office, while I work on a real degree (M.S. in Geology).

I think that if we still held the standard that attending the university was not the equivalent of High School 2.0. Then we would still be turning out students of a higher quality, but in lesser quantity. We would still have droves of middle managers, but they wouldn't all need B.A.s in Anthropology.

-Rob

Tam said...

RevolverRob,

I think that part of the problem is that some time in the last 30 years or so, as primary education went down the tubes, a BA came to be seen as a sign of enough maturity to show up in class every day and do at least a minimum required amount of work. This is why a lot of entry level management positions, even in retail, started requiring them. They didn't so much care what field the degree was in, they just wanted proof that you could be trusted to show up (and unlock the store) for four years straight.

Once you needed a bachelor's to manage a Kwik-E-Mart, it was all downhill from there.

og said...

this is where the old apprenticeship system used to work, and work well. "students" paid for their education on a day to day basis with their labor, and they learned better because they were in the thick of it, all the time. No separation existed between theory and practice. I'd be very pleased if this government meddling caused a return to that type of system, because it produced skilled and talented people.

Anonymous said...

Lot of general anti-governmental thoughts here, (Surprise, Surprise) but what is your solution? This started as a line pointing out how the government was slamming those wanting to learn a trade. Then when I pointed out that this applied to everyone but those trade schools, it morphed back into the general governmental involvement is BAD. So what exactly do you want? No guaranteed loans to anyone? No federal scholarships of any sort? The U.S. has already dropped in rankings when it comes to graduation rates for college degrees, we are out of the top ten in developed countries. And sliding.
As to removing the social standard that everyone must go to college, I agree. But no one is forcing anyone to get a college degree, and you chose a canned B.A. in Anthropology.

og said...

"So what exactly do you want?"

How about getting the .gov to leave us all alone? That seems pretty damned simple, and seems pretty obvious from the post and the comments.

"we are out of the top ten in developed countries"

yep. That government involvement in education is working out great, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

The ones who passed us HAVE governmental involvement. That argument lacks analysis. Let me clarify my point. The original post elaborated on a perceived unfairness. I pointed out this was a fallacy. Instead of making the real argument: I don't like governmental aid for higher education, Tam instead pointed to a proposed change that would LIMIT that aid and claimed that was stupid. If you are against the whole thing then cheer if some vocational schools lose the federal teat. Its highly a highly inconsistent argument.

ToddG said...

Ivy League gender studies

At Cornell, we had an entire college called HumEc (Human Ecology)...

Though in the interest of full disclosure, my now-wife and I took a gender studies class together while we were there 19 years ago... Women at Work. My radical political opinions, like "if a woman can't carry a 200# man up a flight of stairs she shouldn't be any more entitled to become a firefighter than a guy," made me somewhat unpopular.

og said...

"Its highly a highly inconsistent argument."

let's see: NO GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT.

Nope, nothing inconsitent there. I thought maybe I stuttered, but you just can't read.


"The ones who passed us HAVE governmental involvement."

In other words, the government involvement made them more worthy?

Got a citation for that?

Oh, no, I guess you don't. You think it, therefore it MUST be true.

here's a novel thought: How about higher education stands on it's own feet or not at all? How about it actually means something to have a degree besides "I showed up for four years and did the minimal required work, parroting the teacher's bullshit back at them so they'd give me a good grade"

Anonymous said...

A solution - change the public schools to bring back a trades option (a la Germany) where you get a solid foundation in English, math, the sciences and history (which we should have but don't today) and then separate those interested in trades go into apprentice programs and vocational training, and others go college track. Remove federal support for student loans at all institutions, and stop criticizing the trades and skilled manufacturing jobs. If someone wants to go to ITT-Tech or Rennselar Polytechnic, then give them the same support (or lack there of) as if someone goes to State U or Ivy-R-Us. Keep the GI benefits, though.
LittleRed1

Anonymous said...

My question is why does the government think we need more PolySci and French art majors and not well trained quality tradesmen and women? The latter can be shown to have a positive impact on the economy. The former???

Does that mean the gov will be halting funding of the federal trade schools at West Point, Colorado Springs, Annapolis?

Gerry

og said...

LittleRed1, that would be an interesting direction, certainly. Most of my colleagues from German and Austrian companies have benefitted greatly from that system.

Anonymous said...

Og, Let me state it in the most basic terms. If you are against government involvement, then you should be FOR measures that limit it, not complaining about them. If you cannot see what I am saying then I demand a refund of the costs of your K-12 education.

og said...

Whose measures, Anon? Who would handle those measures? Would that be hobbits? Tigers, perhaps?

Please explain how "measures that limit it" are anything other than- you know- GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT.

And you most certainly did not pay for ANY of my education, AT ALL.

Anonymous said...

"The U.S. has already dropped in rankings when it comes to graduation rates for college degrees, we are out of the top ten in developed countries. And sliding."

Your underlying assumption and the logic which flows from it is flawed. That other countries process more degree holders than we do is indicative of nothing.

The quantity of college degrees granted is, in and of itself, simply a sign of a successful marketing campaign.

Jeff the Baptist said...

"Most of my colleagues from German and Austrian companies have benefitted greatly from that system."

When track did your colleagues follow? I had a former coworker from Germany who go locked into the wrong educational track. He resorted to study abroad to get back in the proper academic track.

jason said...

the real "crack down" is on for profit institutions that charge insanely high tuition for their degrees--about 85% of their money comes from federal aid. as an example, i saw one school that offered a LPN degree (glorified butt wiper and diaper changer) for over 20 grand. for that price, a student could go to the state four year school and get a RN degree (and have a good career). that's the crackdown--those vocational (for profit) schools have high rates of defaults on student loans--much worse than the -gasp- .gov schools. they charge much, much more than state colleges, junior colleges, and community colleges, and their graduates fail to find work (or at least fail to pay their loans back) at a higher rate. loosen your wookie suits--this is a non-issue.

og said...

"who go locked into the wrong educational track" That sucks, but how do you define "Wrong"? it may well have been what he was best suited to doing but not what he wanted. And I can certainly sympathise.

Three of my colleagues in the business are machinists, one is a tin knocker, another yet is in machine design. They all got to choose their paths, more or less, or at least choose paths within their zone of aptitude. I suppose if your friend was told he was best suited to be a bricklayer but wanted to be an industrial engineer, that would have been much more difficult. It would be interesting to know how often those who do the aptitude testing are wrong, or how often the students prefer differing paths.

DirtCrashr said...

Gubbmint doesn't want people who can actually fix things, it might give them the notion they can fix Gubbmint. Also they get in the way of Gubbmint mandated Fixologists who are slated to oversee the Environmental Fixation of Dangerous Fixaments when the dishwasher breaks down.

I got locked into the wrong educational track, I went to College. What a waste of money for my parents since I failed to mind-meld with the Academitrons and become another one of them teaching Anthropology and boning co-eds. Instead I got day labor jobs doing gardening and lifting heavy shit, then an inside job doing semi-artistic but technical monkey-work, and then more visually-oriented crap when the heavy-lifting was taken over by younger-bigger-stronger kids.

My BA taught me to be detail oriented? Aptitude testing said I should have been a barber.

Now I really need to get my contractor's license, just so my at-home projects can benefit from the materials discount and they won't hassle me about the to-code wiring.

My shooting buddy didn't go to college but worked in the family machine shop - now he designs cameras for Google and has a house in the hills...

fast richard said...

og,

I'm confused. Do you favor a system with less government involvement? Or, do you favor the German system with far more government involvement?

Ken said...

So what exactly do you want? No guaranteed loans to anyone? No federal scholarships of any sort?

Guaranteed loans are the primary mischief. Artificially suppressing the cost of credit is always and everywhere inflationary (read this phrase as many times as you need to in order to internalize it).

Little surprise that an industry has arisen whose business model is based on soaking up that loose cash. And now that costs appear to have risen, at least sometimes and some places, beyond the likely return, the government is offering to step in and "fix" the problem it helped create.

og said...

Richard: I favor a system with NO government involvement. As has been made clear from the comments, it is not necesarily the structure of the euro system that is at fault (the idea of allowing career tracks that suit the individual) but the very government involvement that is the problem (you're gonna be a bricklayer, Comrade!). Having a completely NON GOVERNMENT INVOLVED educational system where there were, at each stage, choices to be made by the individual to pay for as much or as little education as he wanted and was willing to work for. I think the Germans have a solid concept, and it does work well for many people, but putting the gummint in charge is bag-of-hammers-dumb at every turn.

Less said...

You're all missing the silver lining:

Let's package all the student loans into bonds, sell those bonds with a AAA rating, then bet against 'em!

We'll make millions!

Jeff the Baptist said...

"That sucks, but how do you define "Wrong"? it may well have been what he was best suited to doing but not what he wanted."

My German friend had a 4-year engineering degree. He did this for good reasons. He quickly realized that he hated applied work because it was boring and he had no opportunity for advancement. This is because all the higher positions were occupied by people with the 6 year engineering degree.

The 4 year (very applied) and 6 year (very theoretical) degrees are parallel tracks in Germany. To go theoretical you have to start over completely. My friend came to the US which has a well-respected and more flexible higher education system. He got his Masters and then a Doctorate for good measure.

For that matter a lot of gifted and talented kids get misdiagnosed as future juvenile delinquents. Turns out they're acting out because they're bored.

I really don't like tracking. It tends to stratify society in very unjust ways. Not that I think federal loans are the way to solve the problem.

og said...

"I really don't like tracking. It tends to stratify society in very unjust ways."

You really need to read more than just the first sentence of my comments before you reply. I'm all about choices, and I understand your friend's difficulty; it was, as I have said, the rigidity of the program that was the problem, and not the concept.
"To go theoretical you have to start over completely."
A rigid program. Smacks of a government regulation. And as such, typically asinine.

Anonymous said...

Og said:

"Whose measures, Anon? Who would handle those measures? Would that be hobbits? Tigers, perhaps?

Please explain how "measures that limit it" are anything other than- you know- GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT."

Ok, this is why the big government idiots are winning. Instead of supporting something that might reduce the dollars that are wasted by the government, you are complaining that it exists at all. You know how you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. They win by slowly expanding the damn thing, and instead of going for things that might reduce it by a bit we sit here and demand it disappear overnight. That won't happen.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Oh, C'mon, Tam, put on your tinfoil hat and see that this is all a plot to ensure there are no future Joe The Plumbers to embarrass Dear Leader!

Brandon said...

I don't have a problem with this, and here's why.

On general principle, I agree that government ought not to be dabbling in the student loan market. However, the reality is that it's not likely to withdraw those tentacles anytime soon, and so we must deal within that reality.

I'll use my own profession as an example. The reality is that there are tons of people who spend north of fifty grand for a two-year program in the hopes of landing my job, the description of which consists largely of "hook up a router."

Now, I have no sympathy for someone who'll spend that kind of cheese without doing some research on what kind of job they can reasonably expect right out of school and what other options exist. The Geek Squad is the job that can be expected with no work experience, and Southwest Tennessee Community College offers the official Cisco curriculum at a tenth of the cost of the for-profit joints. There are many people where I work who have spent new-luxury-car money on these non-transferable degrees and are still working the same (often non-technical) jobs they've had for years. Caveat emptor, baby.

Here's the part where I begin to give a crap. When the folks who have been duped largely due to their own ignorance default on their student loans, we the taxpayers get to eat the bill. As I said before, I agree that this shouldn't be the case, but it is not likely to change in the foreseeable future. Therefore, I'm inclined to support whatever reasonable restrictions we can manage in order to discourage such willy-nilly lending to schools that provide questionable, at best, job prospects upon graduation.

og said...

Anon:

Please explain how "measures that limit it" are anything other than- you know- GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT.

Once you have done that, we can have further conversation. Redirecting the conversation to "YOU"RE WRONG!!!ONE!!!" impresses nobody.

Aside from completely ignoring the fact that GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT that is put in place to limit GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT is a black hole of turbo ironic suck, pointing fingers at the people who want LESS government involvement because they don't want- you know, MORE GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT, identifies you as exactly what you are. Does that foam helmet mess up your hair?

Let me use small words for you, so this penetrates your public school education, which I DID pay for: Using the government to fix a problem caused by the government is the height of stupidity. it will not work.

Anonymous said...

Okay Og, lets get a private company to reduce governmental spending and see how that works. The only fix possible without GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT is repealing the whole thing, you joust at the windmill all you want. But that's beside the point, isn't it? Why have anyone at any level of government try to reduce waste since by your definition any government is wasteful? Its a circular argument that cannot be won. So congratulations, I will fire off an email today to my congressman and tell them this is a waste of my money, stop trying to limit losses on federal guaranteed loans and instead try to get the department of education closed. That will work, right?

2yellowdogs said...

Tam,
I actually work in the industry. The .gov's ostensible goal here is "protecting" students from predatory, for-profit (that DIRTY word) schools that saddle them with large, unpayable loans and leave them with worthless degrees. Because, you know, the schools hold guns to the students' heads and force them to sign the loan documents.

Yes, as in every business, there are some bad actors out there. But the vast majority of for-profit schools (the largest of which are the Phoenixes , DeVrys, Kaplans of the world) are serving non-traditional students. By that, I mean people with jobs and kids that can't, or don't need to go to four-year institutions of "higher learning".

Along with the auto, healthcare and mortgage businesses, the .gov has nationalized the student loan business. Not surprisingly, this gives them the leverage to say which schools can and cannot qualify to provide .gov student loans. Like so much else, it's a power grab. Also like so much else, it's fraught with untintended consequences just waiting to pop up like whack-a-moles. The principle consequence being that a number of schools will have to stop providing programs for which there is a significant demand so the .gov can "save" the poor students.

New Zealand is looking better and better.

RevolverRob said...

Tam,

I agree entirely, it was all downhill at the point that Kwik-E-Mart managers needed degrees (I think Apu got one from Podunk U in Religious Studies).

As for how to fix it...I have a few ideas...

1) We MUST stop mandating degrees for menial jobs. Secretaries, postmen, fire fighters, 7-11 Managers, none of them need degrees. Stop requiring them and stop telling people to get them.

2) Offer vocational tech training in high school. Let's face it, not everyone is a mathematician or physicist. Let those who aren't choose an appropriate career path early on and be successful.

3) Pare down the grossly huge Liberal Arts programs at Universities. At Major State School I attended, you could get a BA in everything from History to Religious Studies. We need to quash that crap, if we want to give Liberal Arts degrees, lets focus on the big ones. English, History, Social Studies.

4) STOP paying for it. If we want to pay for educational opportunities for kids, lets pay for the best we can get. The top 5% for every program gets their next semester paid for. Drop out of the 5% it comes out of your pocket. The best students would pay for a single semester and never anymore. Frankly, if I'm going to subsidize education, I prefer to pay for the very best.

5) Stop telling kids they are snowflakes and special.

My sister is a high school educator. She has taken a radical approach to teaching (for today). She tells kids NO and she tells them they aren't special. If they want to be really good they have to try really hard. Her favorite statistic to cite is that America ranks first in the world for student confidence in students ages 15-21, but 27th (in first world countries) for student aptitude in Math and Science.

Food for thought, I think we can do better in educational standards, by stopping the endless buffet line of degrees. Let's focus on getting those want, EDUCATED and those who don't learned in another things that will help them succeed. Let's stop equivilating degree with employed and start making employed = employable.

-Rob

Anonymous said...

Rob,

Good points overall, but

1) It is indeed we who mandate degrees for jobs. If its a stupid and wasteful practice then the market itself should figure it out and stop doing it. How would we go about changing it?

2) I graduated a long time ago from a pretty good school with an awesome vocational program. Lots of hairdressers, mechanics, and the like. It should be emphasized more.

3) Radically cutting back on federal funds to schools will do this on its own. They will be unable to support that without the money.

4) Why pay? Why not just guarantee loans for those in the top 10%? That would cost less than paying for 5% and they would still have to foot their own bill.

5) This is really an indictment of public schools in general. Can't argue with it at all. But it points to the problem that without fixing the basic educational system, you just push the problem down the line for someone else to deal with (the university system.)

Steve Skubinna said...

Wing/Wham - actually, my reaction was "Duh - because those stupid vocational programs lead to embarrassments like Joe the Plumber."

What's that poor schmuck doing these days, anyway? Bet it has nothing to do with plumbing. Cautionary lesson there, boys and girls - you see a politician approach, run, don't walk, for the exit. There's no such thing as an innocent question.

og said...

Anon:
"Why have anyone at any level of government try to reduce waste since by your definition any government is wasteful?"

No, that's not true. Hy any meaningful definition, any government is wasteful. It's not just something in my head, it's a provable, demonstrable fact.

"Why have anyone at any level of government try to reduce waste "

That's stunning.







I have to contemplate the sheer bloody mindedness of that for a few more moments:


"Why have anyone at any level of government try to reduce waste "



Let's see if I can put that in terms that make it clearer:

Why have sex offenders try to reduce sexual molestation. yeah, that has the same flavor.

Why have gangbangers try to reduce inner city violence. Yep, that fits it nicely too.

Why have alcoholics and drug addicts try to reduce addiction. Yeah, that's also a very good fit.

I don't know. Why have any of the people who are guilty of causing a problem be put in charge of solving it? that's an excellent question. if you're a simpleton.


"I will fire off an email today to my congressman and tell them this is a waste of my money, stop trying to limit losses on federal guaranteed loans and instead try to get the department of education closed. That will work, right?"

EXCELLENT!!!! I KNEW THAT SOONER OR LATER SOMETHING WOULD PENETRATE!!!

There are some other things you could do that might have the same effect.

1: Hit a watermelon with a sledgehammer.

2: Bang a rock into another rock

3: Make a fort out of couch cushions, and hide under it.

Because anything you can possibly do, no matter how meaningless or asinine, as long as it harms nobody and wastes only YOUR time, will be INFINITELY preferrable to doing something stupid and malicious that assigns ANY power to ANY government agent or agency.

And you still haven't answered the question. But then, you can't, in a way that supports your argument. So you won't.

Anonymous said...

Sigh, a policy that bars an school of higher education from federal aid if a large percentage of their graduates take out guaranteed loans and then default on said loans limits the current and future participation of federal funds in schools that meet its criteria. This limits the money, resources, and yes INTERVENTION in the overall system.

og said...

"This limits the money, resources, and yes INTERVENTION in the overall system."

See? it's ALL UPSIDE. Everything about this is good, in every conceivable way.

Bubblehead Les. said...

I like to Keep It Simple: Where do you place on the curriculm an analysis of the Communist Manifesto in an Automotive Trade School, before Fuel Injection 101 or after?

Tam said...

"...instead try to get the department of education closed."

Both Reagan and Gingrich frickin' promised me, and yet look where we are now.

Anonymous said...

Og, would you please tell me where I said that this restriction was bad? Its currently in place for 4 year universities, both state and private. I have consistently pointed out that the originating post was criticizing this measure, when everyone here should be cheering. Or were you being ironic?

og said...

Whooooooosh. Never was there so much missed by such distance by so few.

Ed Foster said...

Anonymous: "Lot of general anti-governmental thoughts here, (Surprise, Surprise) but what is your solution?".

Anent said solution, an interesting article in U.S.News and World Report a while back (before Zuckermann started reading HuffPost).

It seems that most defaults on .Gov loans are from the lower level "quicky" trades programs, 3 months to a year, and many of the people defaulting were, to be kind, only marginal in ability and initiative. Many were forced into the programs to keep their extended unemployment benefits or recieve a stipend.

The actual percentile of graduates from college that default on school loans? 1.5%.

The Ivys and other "branded" schools have since switched over predominantly to self financing, because the profit to the school's endowment fund is staggering. Not a bad idea for your average school either.

Consider people actually looking for a cost/benefit ratio for college, rather than accepting the best they could afford. Colleges competing in a free market? What a concept!

The college as proof of work ethic meme was created by a liberal government that refused to let companies use intelligence and aptitude testing to find the best employees through fair and competitive means, although it still allows the military to do so. Go figure.

ToddG said...

A solution - change the public schools to bring back a trades option (a la Germany) where you get a solid foundation in English, math, the sciences and history (which we should have but don't today) and then separate those interested in trades go into apprentice programs and vocational training, and others go college track.

There is already such a program, called Perkins. Over a billion dollars per year is funneled through from the Dept of Ed to state departments of education. Some of the money goes to fund projects inside normal high schools. Some goes to build and operate "career cluster" schools.

For example, I've taken my car around the pursuit track at a technical high school that focuses on kids who want to go into LE-type jobs, from cops to crime scene techs. I've been in a training tower set ablaze at the same school, because they also have kids who want to go into firefighting, EMS, etc.

Respectfully, it's kneejerk conservatism to be opposed to the Dept of Ed. The same people who want the government out of local schools are the ones who complain about the fact that most of our doctors, engineers, etc. come from country-X and country-Y instead of the USA. There are genuine economic and even national security issues related to, for instance, high school tracks that teach kids to be network administrators and programmers.

Are there plenty of things screwed up at the Dept of Ed? Sure. Hello and welcome to the government. There are plenty of things screwed up with DOD and DHS, too, but that doesn't mean they should be shut down.

Tam said...

ToddG,

"Respectfully, it's kneejerk conservatism to be opposed to the Dept of Ed."

Kneejerk wookie-suiterism, actually. ;)

For me, it's not whether it's well- or poorly-run, it's that it exists at all. For good or ill, it's just not within the purview of our government of strictly limited powers, most of which involve administering tariffs and keeping the heathen Chinee fleet away from our shores.

Of course, I think the government's been on the wrong track since Roosevelt. (The less-bad Roosevelt, that it, not the even-worse Roosevelt.)

og said...

"it's kneejerk conservatism to be opposed to the Dept of Ed"

No, it's actually good reason-based common sense to be opposed to the department of ed. Having seen their work up close, and from a distance, and having seen the product of their labors, "That they exist at all" as Tam says is the biggest problem.

The "public education system" is irretrievably broken. It cannot be fixed. Any more money jammed into it will result in nothing more than wasting that money.

Having the fedgov be involved in education is horrible. Having it be involved in finance is criminal. Having the two mixed together is asinine. Having the fedgov further complicate matters by overseeing the dismal job they are doing at both is the worst idea imaginable which does not include naked midgets painted to look like dalmations screaming "Verboten!".

Jeff the Baptist said...

"I'm all about choices, and I understand your friend's difficulty; it was, as I have said, the rigidity of the program that was the problem, and not the concept."

I'd love to see how you propose to implement a tracked education system that isn't rigid. Once you have education start to specialize towards a specific desired outcome, the tracks are going to evolve into incompatibility with each other.

This is partly because anything usefully technical will require prerequisites the other track won't have. In the college track this will be math and science classes. In the vocational track this will be basic trade skills like shopcraft.

It is also because they'll be administered by different people. Why would administrators have incentive to make sure courses which could be common actually are. This only benefits a very small portion of their student base but is a huge pain for them.

Compare that to the current systems where students are still grouped by scholastic aptitude, but not rigidly tracked.

og said...

"i'd love to see how you propose to implement a tracked education system that isn't rigid"

You have to start listening to what I say, and not the voices in your head. I specifically said 'the rigidity of the program" was the problem.

The whole point is NOT "outcome based" education, but "Choice based" education. My colleagues were very happy because they could make the choices they wanted. Your friend made a choice, and then decided he didn't want that. The rigidity of the system made it diffucult to change once there. That rigidity, as I've said, and as you haven't listened to, is in fact the problem.

As far as me implementing a system, I suspect I could take a Vicodin, wash it down with some Maker's mark, and have a nap. Then, on waking from the nap, in a sleepy, vicodin/bourbon haze, I could come up with an educational system (Not a tracked system) that made more sense than anything that ever took place in this country past 1860.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me for a second; I'll be right back...

Oh, okay...hadda go back and check if I accidentally landed on the Og Blog. More than a fourth of the 54 comments in the thread? Damn.

Still, you were having a nice discussion and at least tangentially on-topic. Besides, somebody with as much glass in their proverbial house as I do as to beating a point to death, shouldn't even look at a stone let alone throw one, as Tam might agree.

But I do wonder...since you were so concerned with burning up Tam's bandwidth on a recent discussion between you and me (after just 2 or 3 comments as I recall, not 14 as here), and tried to drag the thread over to neanderland, why not this one?

Could it be that you are confident that most of the thousands of eyes at the House of Tam would quite agree as to your primary point here, stated a bit more succinctly:

"What is the ideal degree of "involvement" of .gov in (fill in anything except national defense)? Answer: nary'n."...

While a protracted and reasoned defense of your "other" assertions and stated behaviors might be expected to elicit from the same group a support level of, um, well...nary'n.

Best to embarrass yourself in the relative privacy of your own quiet place. That about right, og'er?

As I admonished you before, using your own epithets against you...have the strength of your convictions...even if they are "fucktard"ish. And before you decide to call someone else "an internet coward", as the song says: "take a good hard look at yourself".

AT

Mark B. said...

Shorter og:

T.A.R.P.; A.R.R.A.; G.M.; Chrysler.

Barney Frank; Christopher Dodd; Harry Reid; Nancy Pelosi.

Mix well.

Yeild: Something like 7,000 pages of impenetrable and indecipherable legislation written by the beneficiaries of said legislation for the obvious purpose of buying the above-mentioned legislators' next election.

WITH MY EFFING MONEY.

Meanwhile, We The Taxpayers are still on the hook for something like $8 TRILLION worth of private and commercial mortgage guarantees courtesy of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

It's like hiring a selfish and foul-tempered 5-year-old to babysit a teenager. And is likely to be similarly effective. At least at achieving the purported purpose.

'Berg

Anonymous said...

Whew, first off apologies Tam. I have spent too much of your bandwidth. To Og, the person who you have been arguing with is not AT. I am another annoying person who hides behind Tam's skirts much less frequently. I was worried that my bi-monthly outburst on Tam's sight had generated the challenge on your blog, but I am relieved that is not the case. I understand both your and Tam's general philosophy, and agree with its tenets. However, the country we live in is not going to change in the way you wish. As Tam has noted this country had been going down the wrong road for a LONG time. Everyone here has lived during this period. Most have either used/exploited the system OR have not noticed the way it drags everyone down. You could get changes done that you have indicated are useless, so I am afraid that you are set for years of disappointment. I would advise Evan William's Single Barrel Bourbon over Makers Mark. You should try it, its really good. Tam, you should try it too.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the Tam, you should try it too was not a shot, it was a genuine endorsement of a fine bourbon. Actually, it was meant as a kind gesture to everyone here.