HolyCoast: #OccupyWallStreet May Successfully Kill Funding For Higher Education

Sunday, November 06, 2011

#OccupyWallStreet May Successfully Kill Funding For Higher Education

Glenn Reynolds, himself a college law professor, has some interesting thoughts about #OccupyWallStreet's impact on how people think about throwing more money at education:
Indeed, though education is often used to sell tax increases, that approach now seems to be foundering on a lack of results. Nearly every voter knows that spending on education at all levels, though perennially characterized as inadequate, has in fact grown enormously over past decades, but without any visible result.

So, despite vast increases in spending, few would argue that students graduating from high school are better educated today than they were 50 years ago, and few believe that colleges have improved at the same rate that tuitions have gone up, if, indeed, they have improved at all in terms of education.

In this, interestingly, the Occupy movement may have unwittingly lent a hand to the Tea Party. Everyone who has followed the wall-to-wall news coverage has seen the sad stories of protesters who went deeply in debt for college degrees (admittedly, often degrees in things like Peace Studies, but nonetheless, still college degrees) and who now say they are unable to find work.

Faced with those stories, voters may understandably have concluded that more spending on colleges and schools was unlikely to do much to promote employment, regardless of what the political ads from the teachers' unions and higher-education folks claimed.

If education is so great, after all, why are so many educated people unemployed and camping out in public parks?

This is a good question, and similar ones might profitably be asked with regard to other public programs whose spending climbs faster than inflation but whose results remain unimpressive -- which is to say, most public programs.

It's not that the education system is our only public-spending failure, it's just that the Occupy movement has done such a persuasive job of illustrating the particular failures of the education system.
Read the whole thing. If nothing else this movement may stir some parents to take a hard look at the educational choices their kids are making when they head off to college. Any parent that doesn't want his kid living in his basement when he's thirty isn't going to be excited about their choice of "Womyn's Studies" or "Interpretive Dance" as a major, not will they be excited about the though of tens of thousands of dollars in student loans going to support such nonsense.

The old saying used to be "it doesn't matter what your degree is in, just get a degree in something", and perhaps that worked fine up until a few years ago.  Now, however, if your degree isn't in something that's marketable, the competition for jobs is too great to think a degree in anything will get you where you need to go.  You'd be better off with a degree in Auto Mechanics from a for-profit college you see advertised on TV than a grossly expensive Ivy League degree in some nonsensical subject.

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