Robyn Gee on Monday, May. 21st
Peter Thiel, prominent venture capitalist and founder of PayPal, recently claimed on 60 Minutes that plumbers make more money than doctors. So why bother with higher education? It’s expensive, and you can get an equally well-paying job without it, goes the rationale.
Turnstyle previously reported on the Peter Thiel Foundation’s gifts of $100,000 grants to young people under the age of 20, to drop out of college and pursue their entrepreneurial endeavors.
But is it really true that plumbers can out-earn doctors?
Vivek Wadhwa, writing in the Washington Post, offered a critique of Thiel’s message. Wadhwa checked in with the economist who made that claim in 2011, Laurence Kotlikoff. While progressive taxes, opportunity costs and Social Security work in a plumber’s favor, Kotlifoff’s calculations actually presupposed several things to arrive at these conclusions:
…That the doctors went to elite institutions for undergraduate and graduate degrees and then worked in a lower-paying medical specialty such as pediatrics or general practice. And he assumed the doctors financed their entire education without scholarships or other assistance. The calculations also did not take into account the far greater likelihood that a plumber could be unemployed or injured on the job, either of which could prove catastrophic to his or her earning power.
Thiel also makes the argument that the cost of college leaves students with debt that seriously depletes their earnings after graduating.
However, I recently interviewed Lauren Asher, director of the Project on Student Debt, who said less than one percent of college students graduate with more than $100,000 of debt, and a third graduate with no debt at all. According to Asher, a four-year college education is still the best investment a young person can make, even if they have to take out some federal loans. Wadhwa agrees, saying college is one big R&D lab to help you figure out how to navigate life afterwards.
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Robyn Gee on Monday, Apr. 30th
Imagine being afraid to sign up for a particular college course, or ask a burning question to your professor because it might be recorded and documented in a police report with your name on it.
That’s the dilemma that many Muslim college students are facing in New York and surrounding areas.
Recent investigations by the Associated Press show that the New York Police Department has put in place deep levels of surveillance over Muslim communities. This includes sending agents to immerse themselves in communities of Muslims and document religious and political activity in police reports. The NYPD involved the CIA and the FBI to create their intelligence plan.
Muslim Student Unions and Muslim Student Associations at Brooklyn College and colleges all over the Northeast were also targets of surveillance. Informants even went on student trips and reported back how many times students prayed, and what kinds of conversations took place.
Arshad Ali is a post-doc researcher at Teachers College at Columbia University. He’s doing his research on the NYPD surveillance of Muslim students, and in particular, how it is affecting the student experience. We spoke with Ali about what he has heard from Muslim students in his focus groups.
“Students generally feel increasingly targeted and scrutinized by their peers because of this context of NYPD targeting and they fundamentally don’t know who to trust. They feel like some of their peers and classmates think they’re suspect,” said Ali.
According to Ali and the AP reports, police tactics have put students on edge. Tactics include using people called “rakers,” placed in communities to listen and report on conversations, possibly even inside classrooms. Ali said, “students have told us that NYPD officers have been caught posing as students. We also know there’s the larger context of the Patriot Act which allows monitoring of student library usage, book purchases, course enrollment.”
Knowledge of this kind of monitoring has influenced which courses Muslim students feel comfortable enrolling in. “Some say they don’t feel they can openly engage in debate and conversations within classrooms – particularly those dealing with Middle eastern politics or the Muslim world. They’re afraid someone is listening to their words and recording their words,” said Ali.
In addition, Muslim students reported being approached on campus by officers who knew them by name, and knew of their student activities.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects student records from being released, unless requested by the student or their legal guardian. But Ali says it is unclear whether information that is overheard or recorded during a classroom conversation is protected by FERPA. “There are deep FERPA implications [in the NYPD surveillance] because we don’t know what the colleges have turned over to the NYPD,” said Ali.
Ali intends to examine the larger implications of the surveillance as well: how this incident will impact the role of the college or university in our society. “If [students] accept surveillance on their campus as a regular part of what it means to be an engaged student, I think we’re going to see a shift in university culture and university political life.”
It’s commonly assumed that college is a time for experimenting and finding one’s identity. But according to Ali, some students might be losing that freedom to explore and find themselves. “That’s one of the things as a society that we value about the college university space. In the ideal sense, it’s a place for young people to debate and deliberate about ideas they’re challenging… One of the problems with that though is there is no differentiation between criminal activity and someone being an active participant in the Muslim community,” he said.
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A new study published in the journal Psychological Science shows a correlation between college students that come from states with high income inequality and students that cheat. The researcher, Lukas Neville, is a Ph.D. candidate in organizational behavior at Queen’s School of Business in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He said he became interested in academic dishonesty and plagiarism because of his teaching experience. Turnstyle spoke with Neville about his research.
Turnstyle: What inspired you to do this study?
Neville: I wanted to look at situational factors that contributed to cheating. My sense is that there are some incorrigible students who will always cheat and some saints who won’t cheat no matter what, but there are also a substantial number of students whose decision to cheat is shaped, at least partially, by the environment they’re in.
Turnstyle: Who did you survey in this study?
Neville: I actually didn’t talk to students directly – I let their Google searches speak for them. I took a dataset that broke down a huge pile of search traffic, and showed which states were more likely to be the origin of particular searches. So, for instance, if you look at ‘frozen car door’ as a search term, you’ll find that that search tends to originate in cold Northern states like Wisconsin and Minnesota, rather than Sun Belt states like Florida.
I was wondering if I’d see any pattern to which states were more likely to go hunting for things like “free term paper”, or search for the names of common essay term mills.
Turnstyle: Why do you think your study showed a correlation between income and cheating in college?
Neville: Actually, what I found was that it wasn’t so much about income; it wasn’t rich states versus poor states. It was about inequality in income: States that had a really big gap between the rich and the poor were more likely to be the sources of these searches than states with a smaller gap.
The reason I think income inequality correlates with cheating (as measured with these sneaky searches for essays to crib) is that income inequality tends to lower trust. Previous research has shown that a huge gulf between the rich and poor weakens social ties and make us more suspicious of each other.
Turnstyle: Why do you think more students from states with high income inequality are more likely to cheat?
Neville: I think that students from states with high income inequality tend to cheat more because there’s less trust in those places. If you’re in an environment where people act like you’re trustworthy, you tend to want to live up to that trust. And if you’re in a high-trust environment, you look around, and you think, ‘Yeah, these folks around me can be counted on not to cheat.’
But if you’re in a low-trust place, you’re more likely to think that those around you are cheating, and you don’t want to be the one sucker left working hard while everyone else is prospering by cheating. Being in a place with lower average trust in one another probably puts you at greater risk of cheating because you think everyone else is cheating, if you want to think of it that way.
And that’s exactly what I found here. The effect of inequality on cheating-related searches was due to the effect of inequality on trust: High-inequality states had less trust, and that mattered because trust kept people from searching for these terms. High inequality, lower trust, more cheating. And I found that if you controlled for cheating, that link between inequality and cheating disappears. Trust is really the key that links together economic equality and honest behaviour (and, on the other hand, economic inequality and cheating).
Turnstyle: Did the number of students who admitted to cheating in college increase over time?
Neville: My study wasn’t able to look at the rates of cheating over time. Back in 2001, Donald McCabe from Rutgers did a review with his colleagues and concluded that there had been a modest rise over thirty years in academic dishonesty. Since then, there has been a massive rise in the availability of tools – Internet searches being one – that students can use to cheat. It’s become easier to cheat since then.
Turnstyle: What surprised you from your study?
Neville: I was honestly surprised to find these results looking only at the state level. Usually, you look at dynamics of trust at the level of communities. The search-engine query data is only available at the state level, and I thought, with the huge differences within a state in trust, I’d never find anything. But even when you’re looking state-to-state, you still see these effects. I think it’s really important to start digging down and looking at how these relationships play out at the level of the college, of the classroom.
Turnstyle: Do you think your study will cause concern among professors with regards to cheating?
Neville: I hope this gives professors some hope. We don’t have a lot of power as academics and instructors over how wealth gets divided. But we do have control over the environment of trust in our colleges and classrooms. And my research shows that the reason inequality is having this effect on cheating is because it deteriorates our trust.
Professors can do a lot to foster trust in our classrooms. There’s great work on the effect that honor codes seem to have on cheating. Feeling trusted would help to explain why they work. I think we need to work to build communities in our classrooms. It’s hard to have trust in the context of a huge, impersonal, 1000-seat lecture theatre where students don’t know one another. That’s a big challenge, but making the classroom a community where students trust and feel trusted, I think that’s really important to helping mitigate some of inequality’s ugly effects.
Turnstyle: What are the next steps in this field?
Neville: I think this study is an interesting start to a conversation, but it’s not the final word. Looking at search queries, looking only at the level of the state, not being able to tease apart cause and effect, these are real challenges with this study. I think the next step needs to be to look at the dynamics at the more personal level, within classrooms, rather than within states. But that said, I hope that it captures people’s interest and imagination and gets people talking about inequality and trust in education.
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Robyn Gee on Thursday, Apr. 5th
Ben Nelson, the founder of the online photo finishing company Snapfish, just received $25 million from Benchmark Capital in Silicon Valley, to launch what he claims is the answer to the “lockjaw” problem at elite universities. In other words, top tier schools are overcrowded and unable to expand their undergraduate capacity, resulting in droves of qualified applicants turning to less prestigious institutions. His idea is called the Minerva Project, an online elite university.
He expects the first class to matriculate in 2014, and the students will be selected on academic prowess alone. He expects only five to 10 percent of students to come from the United States and the rest to be international, reports the Atlantic.
The website is currently recruiting students and faculty and reads:
* Minerva is a mission-driven organization where every individual employee is expected to go to extraordinary measures to ensure that we achieve our goal of improving the world through the success of our students.
* Minerva expects and creates structures to encourage long-term commitments to the company. We are building an institution that will lead for centuries and all Minerva employees must keep that long term perspective in mind.
* Minerva is specifically attracted to accomplish things that have never been done before. For those who enjoy well-trodden paths, this is not the best environment.
Nelson expects tuition to cost around $20,000 per year.
The Atlantic raises the questions: “Can Minerva really whip prestige out of thin air?” and “Does the world really want an online Ivy?”
Tell us what you think.
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Robyn Gee on Tuesday, Mar. 20th
Popular California community college, Santa Monica College, recently decided to start offering more sections of its most popular classes during the summer for five times the amount they normally cost, according to the Atlantic. The reason the tuition is so high is because these sections are not subsidized by the state.
Students in California have faced major tuition increases, due to budget cuts. According to the Community College Chancellor’s office, community colleges have suffered $769 million in cuts since 2009, and in 2011 took another $502 million cut.
Because of this, colleges have cut back on their course offerings, which makes it hard for students to get into all the classes they need to complete their programs. By offering more courses at higher prices, students who can afford to pay extra will be able to finish their programs faster.
The Atlantic is critical of this move, saying it creates two tracks–the haves and have-nots– in the school community, and will transform state schools into semi-private institutions. But the article also acknowledges that schools struggling to stay afloat do not have many other options.
Got better ideas? Tell us what you think.
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Robyn Gee on Thursday, Feb. 16th
We’ve heard recently that student loan debt in the United States tops credit card debt. In fact, two-thirds of college graduates wind up with some kind of debt that averages about $25,000. Filmmakers Serge Bakalian and Aurora Meneghello created Default: the Student Loan Documentary, which is currently on a national tour, and played recently at San Francisco Indie Fest.
The film looks at a handful of student borrowers whose debt has climbed so high in the years following their college graduation, that their only choice is to default on their loans, putting them into forbearance.
I spoke with Bakalian about the film, and the reactions he’s getting from audiences around the country. He’s currently fundraising for a follow-up film, in which he will do updates on the featured borrowers from “Default.”
Check out some highlights from the interview below, or listen to an in-depth version here.
Turnstyle: What were some of the most shocking things that you learned while making the film?
Serge Bakalian: It was quite common for borrowers and grads to have loans of about $100,000 to $150,000, especially if they went to grad school, or law school or med school.
When we went to college campuses, we were asking students randomly: who are they borrowing from? What’s the interest rate [on the loan]? How much do they owe? How much do they think they’re going to pay when they come out of college? And, across the board, regardless of [whether we were at a] public or private school, students did not know, or didn’t want to know what the situation was.
That’s a very frightening place to be. You have these 17 or 18-year-olds, with their eyes wide open, getting ready to go to college and fulfill a dream. They really trust [that] their financial aid officers and their universities have their best interest in mind; and, unfortunately, we’ve found that’s not the case.
Turnstyle: What’s one thing that you want to change about how our system currently works?
SB: I would love to see, in this country, better fiscal education, especially for young people. I don’t mean by the time they get in college: that’s too late. Unless you have parents that really stress financial education, we don’t seem to give that to young people in this country. That’s something that just makes no sense. You need to learn about basic concepts of interest rates and loans. We’re not taught those things.
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Robyn Gee on Thursday, Feb. 9th
Last month, the California State Senate approved a bill to develop a Creativity and Innovation Education Index — a database designed to keep track of the number of arts, music, and other creative opportunities at schools. The intention is to measure how schools are fostering creativity among their students. California is just one of several states to implement a law like this, Massachusetts being the first, according to Education Week.
It might seem like a shock that California is concerned with measuring creativity opportunities when the budget for arts classes and music programs has been cut in school districts all over the state. However, employers and business owners are saying that new applicants to the workforce are not equipped with the creativity and critical-thinking skills required to get hired.
The California Alliance for Arts Education describes the index:
A creativity and innovation index would provide a way for schools to rate their progress in teaching, encouraging and fostering creativity in students. Index scores would be voluntarily compiled by school and district staff from a survey of curricula and teacher reports. It would quantify the opportunities in each school as measured by the availability of classes and before and after-school programs offered by and through school districts that nurture creativity and innovation in students. Examples might include visual and performing arts education classes, debate clubs, science fairs, theatre and dance performances, music concerts, film-making, creative writing, and independent research.
Turnstyle spoke with Mary Wright, Associate Director for The Conference Board, a business membership and research association, who specializes in the intersection of business and education. She was a leader on a report called, “Are They Really Ready To Work?” in 2006, which identified key skill sets that employers thought were important for their employees to have, and creativity and innovation were among the top five.
We spoke with Wright about the concept of a Creativity Index and how she thinks it could affect the workforce readiness of young people today.
Turnstyle: Explain, in a nutshell, your workforce readiness research with regards to the need for non-academic skills.
Wright: We wanted to understand what business really meant by “new entrants are not workforce ready.” We looked at both basic skills, [like] reading, writing, and arithmetic, and also asked about the applied skills, like 21st century skills. The applied skills are things around critical thinking, information technology application, teamwork and collaboration, and creativity and innovation.
Turnstyle: Can you explain “applied skills?”
Wright: It was clear to us that the applied skills were the ones that were considered most important. Certainly, people would argue that math and science develop significant critical thinking skills. They give you tools to figure out problems. But if you can’t communicate what you just learned or what you just did, you’re not as valuable in the workplace.
It was interesting given the emphasis that people have on STEM [science, mathematics, technology and engineering] skills, and yet, what employers were saying, it wasn’t the math skill that was important, it was the critical thinking skill. That would be true regardless of whether someone was in a STEM career or a retail career.
Turnstyle: How does this research reflect a changing trend in the workforce?
Wright: In my parent’s generation, you started working at the bank, and you were at the bank for 50 years and you retired with your gold watch, and that’s all you did. Today’s generation, you’re not only looking at six different jobs at the bank, but six different careers. You may start in a retail company, and take those skills and go to a manufacturing company, and take those skills and go to a bank, and take those skills and go somewhere else.
The ability to use your knowledge as a set of tools, to be able to analyze, regardless of the industry or the role you find yourself playing, that seems to be a far more valuable skill set than whether you have the technical skills. There’s a stubbornly high unemployment rate, and people are saying that there’s a huge mismatch between the skills of the people available and the skills of the jobs that are there. That, I think, people are attributing to the decline of technical education, or the fact that people are saying everyone needs a four-year degree; I think the data shows that that’s not necessarily true.
Turnstyle: Do businesses and schools deal with creativity in the same way?
Wright: We were curious to see: how is it that creativity is taught, and how is it enhanced? We asked both business executives and school administrators how they were thinking about creativity. Everybody said creativity was very important; but how it is defined was quite different. Businesses said that it was the ability to define the problem; school administrators were saying it was the ability to find the answer.
A lot of businesses have gone out of business because they were solving the wrong problem. The auto industry has solved the wrong problem many times over; maybe they [were] building bigger cars but the problem was fuel… We also saw that when we asked schools what programs help develop creativity, they said creative writing and arts classes. Yet the majority of those classes are not required, not part of the strict core curriculum; they were an elective.
Now business had a very similar result. We asked: once you have these employees, how do you help develop creativity?
But neither schools nor businesses are making creativity a requirement of either their employees or their students.
Turnstyle: Do you think creativity indices are a good way to increase the amount of creativity in schools?
Wright: What’s important gets measured. I think that therefore developing some metric by which you can determine [the question], “are you making a difference?” is a critical one. Massachusetts and California are two states with big high-tech industries and [are] very interested in making sure there’s a creative nature.
We’re hoping to be able to ask, if these are the most creative people in the company, what is their training? What is similar in their background that would suggest that therefore if you did the following six things, you are going to be more successful as a creative person? If schools had some measure that begins to say it’s because they had a fabulous science teacher, or project-based learning, or a theater program, because we don’t have a sense of what is the most significant driver.
Turnstyle: Do you have any concerns about the index?
Wright: There’s always an issue around equity. If kids are coming from an upper-income area, and parents can supplement what kids are exposed to, then you begin to worry about the bias. Is it just the school environment? What is happening before and after school that is going to make a difference? I haven’t seen the indices so I don’t know how they’re going to factor in that kind of thing.
Then there’s the issue of preference… If a kid chooses not to be involved in activities like theater, are they missing out on the opportunities?… If that project-based learning is not used in the traditional classroom, then that child will not be exposed. Then there’s the reverse: just because a kid was in a classroom with project-based learning, does that mean they’re inherently more creative? No.
Turnstyle: Do you see a common goal for businesses and education in terms of workforce readiness?
Wright: We continue to look at the issue around how businesses and schools talk to each other. Schools have always felt that their role is to make that person ready to be an important contributor to society — someone you want to have as a neighbor. We certainly feel that the skill sets involved in being workforce-ready are exactly the same as those of being a good citizen: you can read, you can write, you can express yourself, you can understand, you can take knowledge from a variety of areas and turn it into something useful. We feel that the bridge between the business world and the education world is there, and it’s something we need to work on strengthening.
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Robyn Gee on Wednesday, Feb. 1st
This story originally aired on KALW’s Crosscurrents.
In last week’s State of the Union address, President Obama proposed something radical, that dropping out of high school should no longer be allowed. But that might be complicated. Every school district has tried numerous solutions to the dropout dilemma without success. The problem prompted Russell Rumberger to write a book called Dropping Out: Why Students Drop Out of High School and What Can Be Done About It.
Rumberger is director of the California Dropout Research Project, and he currently serves as provost in the Office of the President at the University of California. He recently talked about his theory that high schools need to promote alternatives to college – and that some people might be better served not getting a higher education at all. KALW’s Ben Trefny sat down with Youth Radio’s Robyn Gee to discuss this idea of education.
This story was produced by Youth Radio with support from the New Options Project and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
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Robyn Gee on Wednesday, Jan. 25th
President Barack Obama gave education a fair share of attention during the State of the Union address last night.
The talking points:
- Require all students to stay in high school until they are 18
- Extend the tuition tax credit
- States should make higher education a priority in their budgets
- Reward good teachers and keep them on the job
- Give schools flexibility so they do not have to teach to the test
Mr. Obama has said in the past that he hopes the United States will be number one in the world when it comes to having the highest percentage of college graduates. “Higher education can’t be a luxury -– it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”
But “college for all” is a hot topic right now. Some educators argue that not everyone wants to go to college, or will necessarily succeed in college, and policy makers need to define success more broadly beyond academic achievement tests and AP tests and include valuing job-ready skills in students.
Instead of making vocational education and career and technical education an option in high schools, Obama wants to address job training by creating partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train Americans with specific skills that lead directly to jobs. As of now, Mr. Obama believes business leaders can’t find American workers with the right skills to hire.
In terms of teachers, the Huffington Post reports that both the leaders of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association were pleased with the speech. Obama spoke about the role a teacher plays in changing students’ lives, quoting a Harvard study that said that a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by $250,000. He said schools should have flexibility to reward good teachers and replace ineffective teachers.
Check out a video of the speech below.
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Robyn Gee on Friday, Jan. 13th
Could being on the high school football team prepare you just as well for the workplace as taking an advanced placement class? By forcing all students onto a college-bound track, we ignore the fact that there are other trajectories towards success and gainful employment, according to Russell Rumberger, who currently serves as provost in the Office of the President at the University of California, and director of the California Dropout Research Project.
Rumberger recently published a book called, Dropping Out: Why Students Drop Out of High School and What Can be Done About It. According to Rumberger, roughly 25 percent of U.S. high school students do not graduate. And he says that our country is only making the problem worse by trying to prepare everyone for college.
Turnstyle spoke with Rumberger about how to re-define success in high school by creating multiple pathways for students to achieve inside and outside of school.
Turnstyle: In a nutshell, tell us about your argument that when academia focuses solely on getting kids to college, it can lead to more high school dropouts?
Rumberger: I do believe everybody who wants to go to college, has the inclination to go to college, should be able to. Even if they may not have the initial ability, they should still be encouraged and supported to go. It may be harder for them, it may take them longer to finish, but that’s okay. But for students who don’t want to [go to college], they should have an option as well; the opportunity to develop skills that are valued in the job market and take that pathway.
What would serve students better in the long run is if we had a broader definition of success in high school to include more things that people can master that we know are important. Some of those things can be best acquired in the classroom, but many can be acquired outside the classroom.
Underlying my assertion is that we want to try to make every kid successful in something. If we define success narrowly by saying how well can you do on an AP test, or a math test, or some other kind of academic test, and that’s the only way we judge success, then the students that have the ability to work with others, the ones that can design things, the ones that know how to cook or fix cars, none of those skills are valued. But if we say, everyone should have something that they can master, and demonstrate mastery of, then there’s this notion that students will develop a sense of competence.
Turnstyle: Can you explain the tension between college-readiness programs and vocational education programs?
Rumberger: Historically, the academic programs and college preparatory program, were really designed to prepare students for college, and that was seen as a viable path in and of itself. When [high schools] were not very common, [college prep] was the only thing that high schools needed to do because everyone else went straight to work.
In the early part of the 1900’s, when high schools became universal, [this tension arose] between selectivity and universality… Once they introduced more people, then not everyone wants to go to college, or has the ability to go to college, and that’s when vocational courses were introduced into the high school curriculum. Then the tension became, which pathway serves which students? …
The criticism of this dual system, was that the wealthier smarter kids got to go to college track, the dumber, not wealthy kids went to the lower track, and they got two kinds of education — one better than the other.
Turnstyle: The Department of Labor Statistics projects that more than one-third of all job openings in the US economy between 2008 and 2018 will not require a college degree. In a country that is often criticized for teaching to the test, do you think high schools should be doing more to teach to the job?
Rumberger: I think there’s value in strengthening the academic curriculum, but we don’t want to do so at the expense of the vocational or career and technical program. In fact, one of the interesting developments we’re supporting at the University of California are integrated courses that can teach both academic and career and technical skills in the same course.
They could often be taught by two kinds of instructors, because we have different requirements for instructors in the two areas. We want academic instructors to have academic competence in the subject matter such as math or science, but the state requires that career and technical instructors have industry experience, so they know what work is like in industry. Ideally you have two kinds of teachers with two kinds of backgrounds.
In academic areas you might want to teach someone how to problem-solve to do something — let’s say, create a robot. But to actually build a robot you have to have other kinds of skills. You have to know how to work with materials. You might have to use a lathe, or use wood-working tools… Why have those skills separate? Why not have them do both, so that students are actually developing practical skills, like how to work with their hands and how to actually make something?
Turnstyle: To what extent should businesses and trade unions be involved in informing what gets taught at schools? Do you think these types of public / private partnerships are important?
Rumberger: [I think businesses and trade unions] should be very involved because they’re the ones that say, ‘These are the things our workers need to have to be successful in the workplace.’ Sometimes they’ll do surveys of employers and ask, what are the skills you really need to have?
There’s one survey that I cited from the National Association of Manufacturers, and they talked about punctuality, dependability, and perseverance as being qualities they looked for in employees… You think about some of those skills, and you might develop them very well by being on a football team, or being in a responsible position in a student organization in high school… there are many different ways of acquiring those skills, so the input from industry would help shape that discussion about what it is that is important to be teaching and rewarding in high school.
Turnstyle: The Obama administration is very focused on being academically competitive with the rest of the world, and set a goal to be number one in college graduates by the year 2020. Is that the right focus for our country?
Rumberger: It makes me uncomfortable. I submit that we’ll never be number one in the world in college graduates, without being much higher in high school graduation rates than we are now. We’re roughly 20th in the world in high school graduation rates… We still have so many kids that are not graduating, roughly 25 percent of our high school students.
It’s related to conditions outside of school. There are some international studies that show how the United States ranks in terms of child well-being and child welfare in terms of health and family conditions. In one survey, we were about 20th. I think it’s correlated, the fact that if we’re 20th in high school graduation rates and 20th in the sense of child welfare — those are related phenomena.
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