I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

College Is No Guarantee of Success

Professional blind squirrel Campbell Brown finds a nut:
Hardly reassuring words when you look at the reality. According to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, about 53.6 percent of men and women under the age of 25 who hold bachelor’s degrees were jobless or underemployed last year, the most in at least 11 years. According to the Pew Research Center, if we broaden the age group to 18- to 29-year-olds, an estimated 37 percent are unemployed or out of the work force, the highest share in more than three decades.
This notion that poverty is caused by a bad American education system keeps bumping up against reality. The fact is, we can't even create enough jobs for our current college graduates; how will sending more people to college help with that?

The reformies are always saying how urgently we must implement their unproven schemes: "The children can't wait while we solve poverty! We need charters/deunionization/tenure-gutting/vouchers/merit pay NOW!" Well, even if any of these things led to a better-educated populace (they won't), what difference would it make if we don't have any jobs for them?

If the reformies were right, we wouldn't have any unemployment for young people who went to college. If a lack of education keeps people from getting good jobs, no one with a good education should be looking for work. Problem is, they are.

Don't get me wrong: of course I think we need an educated populace. And we need a real meritocracy, where talented kids can go to elite schools even if they have working-class parents, But we also need policies that create decent, dignified jobs for people, even if they don't have a degree. Sending more people to college will not create those jobs.

Again, the reformies have it all backwards: poverty creates poor student achievement, not the other way around. Fix poverty, and student achievement will grow - whether or not children choose to go to college.

ADDING: Diane Ravitch has more.

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