links 8-1-12

Yes, College is an Engine of Inequality by Danny Vinik | Washington Monthly: "He then correctly points out that a college degree has become a necessity for many jobs that did not used to require a degree. He calls this “credential inflation” and admits that it is a factor in growing inequality; college graduates have fared much better during the recession than non-college graduates did. Just 4.1 percent of college graduates are unemployed right now while 8.4 percent of high school graduates and 12.6 percent of those with less than a high school diploma are unemployed. Leef is right here, but this is all evidence that higher education is an engine of inequality."

Mass coerced schooling has defined itself as a sorting mechanism for jobs in the industrial economy and that is a very problematic, and recent role, for education. This is not as clear in smaller, more homogenous systems within nation-states with stronger human capital support systems. In a large and diverse nation-state like the US, requiring children to attend and be streamed into the dysfunctional job training streams is beginning to resemble the child labor it was supposed to replace.

Mass coerced schooling does not have any mechanism for accountability to either the users of the service nor the customers served. Testing and grades sort users, not education systems, and there is no tracking of damage done other than drop-out rates, an incredibly gross measure. Compulsory attendance laws ensure that the industry has a steady stream of users who have no input whatsoever.

Mass education systems are embedded in the workplace, teacher certification is one such system, but there is no mechanism for ensuring that certification is worthwhile and concise. In fact, the current structure creates incentives for profit-seeking at the expense of the users and customers. Workplaces continue to train workers on top of the bloated requirements the education complex has manufactured. And the education complex is legally protected from any damage done to those mandated to attend. No one can sue the schools for failure to want real change throw  educate or for poor quality teaching. Inequality is a by-product of this industry by its very structure.

Pat Farenga's Blog - Unschooling Homeschooling - Pat Farenga: "First, in heavily industrialized societies like the United States, school is incredibly difficult to change from within. Any survey of efforts to make schooling more personalized, local-community-based, and convivial over the past century will show that these efforts get subsumed or ignored by the push to make schooling more standardized, national, and competitive by educators and politicians. "

It is always hard for me to read professional educators whose language reflects their assumptions about controlling learning; few who have not stepped outside the current school model can understand the built-in assumptions about people and learning that our system makes and how these affect kids.

The Disaster Capitalism Curriculum: an Interactive Comic by Dan Archer and Adam Bessie:   'via Blog this' A graphic novel that identifies GERM, global education reform movement, tied to multinational corporations. It is also tied to centralization (usually), mechanization, and industrialization of education, creating an industry and economy based in manipulation of youth.

‘Teach Your Children Well,’ by Madeline Levine - "Here, her insights are fresh. “When apples were sprayed with a chemical at my local supermarket, middle-aged moms turned out, picket signs and all, to protest the possible risk to their children’s health,” Levine reflects. “Yet I’ve seen no similar demonstrations about an educational system that has far more research documenting its own toxicity. We have bought into this system not because we are bad people or are unconcerned about our children’s well-being, but because we have been convinced that any other point of view will put our children at even greater risk.”"

The Ones We've Lost: The Student Loan Debt Suicides
"Koch originally borrowed $69,000 in 1997. The majority of that money was loans for law school, seemingly, he says, to “better myself.” After he graduated from Touro Law School, Koch struggled to find steady employment and eventually he defaulted on his loans. He was immediately slapped with $50,000 in penalties. For years, he had been filling out deferment forms every six months to buy himself more time but in 2009, Sallie Mae declared him in default. At the time of this writing, Koch owes over $320,000. That sounds staggering but it’s hardly unusual. Once a person defaults on a student loan, the balance grows exponentially, with interest compounding on interest, penalties and fees. By the time he “retires,” in 23 years, Koch figures he will owe close to $1.9 million. He can’t get even subprime credit, he tells me, and it’s not like there’s any way out of his trap: student loan debt cannot be absolved through bankruptcy."

Ben Bernanke on Education
Education is not the same as schooling. Keep that in mind as you listen to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke who gave the keynote at the recent Children's Defense Fund Conference.

Education, in all its aspects, from socialization to nurturing talents and interests, is very worthwhile. But schools interfere with that for increasing numbers of students. Studies showing that those with more schooling do better than those with less only confirm that schools filter out effectively. As the people with the sought after credential increase, the benefit of the credential diminishes.

Schools actually make it OK for workers to earn less: schools allow us to blame the students, or nowadays, the teachers. These studies accept the current school structure and reinforce it.

Schools cannot overcome this structural limitation without changing their core function. If schools did not manufacture credentials but supported learners, we might get very different results. Make schools accountable to users; empower every child and family to seek resources and make choices at every single school.

Henry Miller on Reading, Influence, and What's Wrong with Education | Brain Pickings: "Miller’s insights touch on modern concerns about the brokenness of industrialized education and echo Abraham Flexner’s 1939 essay on the usefulness of useless knowledge:
In this age, which believes that there is a short cut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest. All that is set forth in books, all that seems so terribly vital and significant, is but an iota of that from which it stems and which it is within everyone’s power to tap. Our whole theory of education is based on the absurd notion that we must learn to swim on land before tackling the water. It applies to the pursuit of the arts as well as to the pursuit of knowledge. Men are still being taught to create by studying other men’s works or by making plans and sketches never intended to materialize. The art of writing is taught in the classroom instead of in the thick of life. Students are still being handed models which are supposed to fit all temperaments, all kinds of intelligence. No wonder we produce better engineers than writers, better industrial experts than painters."

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