Monday, July 25, 2011

Guest Post: Who needs a degree in ditch digging?

Kids just don't listen. Parents just don't listen. Kids born when Caddyshack came out in 1980 are about ten years removed from college. God only knows how much debt they still have at this point. Not really my problem, but I will say this, "I tried to warn you."

I was inspired to blog from the great beyond for two reasons: 1) Amy Winehouse is driving me crazy already (between her and Dangerfield, I feel like I'm in hell), 2) The New York Times recently ran a story about the over-saturation of higher education.

I understand the need for people to be smart. I hate stupid people. But a college education and the debt associated with it is not always the smartest choice. Back in my day, a kid would graduate high school with a skill (or set of skills) that would allow them to put bread on the table thanks to "shop" classes: metal shop, wood shop, auto shop, etc. There were guys in my high school who witnesses vocational success and went on to become foremen and even run their own shops. Boys who dreamt of being fire fighters, cops and cowboys, could make a living without a master's degree in fire science, correctional justice or animal husbandry. They chose blue collars over academic regalia. Others, like myself, went on to college to earn degrees and work in less dirty fields. Both are necessary.

Today, those shop classes are all but gone and forgotten. Math, Science, Engineering, Technology are the drivers today. The dummies running our schools--nay, the dummies making educational lawyer friends--must not think that Math, Science, Engineering and Technology are strewn throughout subjects formerly taught in the "shops."

Now we have all these kids, dropping out of high school because there is no longer a clear career path for those who want to dig ditches, or more and more go on to college. The ones who go to college, graduate with a ton of debt, cannot find a good job, and still join country clubs. I don't want that riff raff cluttering up my fairways.

Colleges need to be held more accountable for job placement. Private sector employers need to be more realistic about the skills/education necessary to do a job. K-12 policymakers need to think seriously about children left behind by No Child Left Behind and the weakening of the foundation as we Race to the Top.

I gotta go. I'm playing 19 holes with St. Peter. I need to talk to him about who he's letting through the gate.

About the Author:
Judge Elihu Smails is a bigoted and stodgy member of Bushwood Country Club. While his views are tilted toward the elite, he understands the importance of balance and order. His "ditch digger philosophy" remains his most important contribution to mankind.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Buy Local...Writer's Edition

Let me preface this post by saying that I am a big fan of the Business Journal. There is a rule in my office that I get first glance at the issue that comes in the mail every Friday. I look forward to my Daily Update in my inbox every afternoon. I follow them and RT them on twitter. But the March 25, 2011 issue caused me to pause and write a few words.

Now, I have been outspoken about Buy Local in the past (which caused a little trouble at work...another story). I fully support buy local efforts and I think the column by John Crabtree is good. Not great, but good. It's a good "Guest View" and I feel like my post might not provide the most hospitable welcome.

My problem is that Mr. Crabtree is from Nebraska. We have a column telling us to be loyal and buy local. Last time I checked, there are local people who are writers. They actually do writing as a type of businessy thing. They are a flight risk if their vocation is not supported locally. At a quick glance, the column appears to be about 100 to 150 words long. I think we might have a local writer or two or three who would appreciate the opportunity (especially if they get paid) to offer a guest view.

I had the privilege of writing a recurring column for the Business Journal for a period of time. It was fun and, while I did not get paid, it provided me with an opportunity to publish some stuff and share my perspective with the larger community.

I just hope the talented writers in Fresno | Kings | Madera | Tulare counties have the chance to offer their perspective and sell local.

If you are looking for other other local talent (beyond writers), I did profile a few cool peeps about a year ago (some of them have since left the area).

Monday, March 14, 2011

Teach them well...nah, we can't afford it.

Time for some commentary. It's been a long time since I blogged. But I am sick and effing tired of what I keep reading about the current financial situation. Here is what is on the current chopping block:

First 5 funds
K-12 funding
High Education funding
Library funding

Let me get this straight, we have decided that we can no longer afford to invest in education and literacy?

I know people get hot-and-bothered about the need to fund public safety, but what about investing in the next generation. I do not think education should be funded only during times of surplus. Cuts have to be made someplace, but the areas I listed above need to be left intact. We are setting ourselves up for a bleak future.

What does this strategy say about our interest in longterm sustainability (of our economic system)?