With a few years of experience, an auto mechanic at a dealership can earn $80,000 a year. But high schools are eliminating auto shop classes. The equipment is costly, industrial tech (shop) teachers are hard to find and students' schedules are filled with college-prep classes. Students assume the only way to make a living is to go to college, but many don't have the motivation or the academic skills to earn a college degree. Only about half of students who enroll in college ever earn a degree; most of those who graduate won't be earning $80,000 a year.There are two factors conspiring against the skilled trades: the teacher unions are dominated by, well, teachers who themselves are the products of many years of (fairly worthless) higher education, contributing to an elitist scorn of tradesmen; and second, schools are often measured by the number of kids they get into college, not the number of kids who find gainful employment. Indeed, the kids who learn a trade and never go to college are likely more successful and financially stable at 25 than the English majors who graduate from the middle of the Ivy League pack.
Community colleges are picking up the slack. But students often enter with no hands-on skills: They don't know how to change the oil, or how big a 13 mm wrench is. And many can't read well enough to understand the manual or use the diagnostic data on the computer screen. Qualifying for a skilled trade is more demanding than qualifying for most colleges.
Many slacker students, bored and frustrated by college-prep courses, would work much harder on reading and math if they knew what they had to do to get an $80,000-a-year job. But the snobbery of the times tells students they have to sit in a classroom for 16 years -- with or without learning anything -- to earn a living.
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Education: Closed Shops
Joanne Jacobs highlights another failure of the government-run education monopoly:
Posted by Skip at 6:22 PM