Guest Column: Education and Employment

Morris Goodman, a Dearborn attorney, past president of the Dearborn Democratic Club, a longtime political activist and observer and regular reader of Deepsaidwhat.com now adds “education snob” to his list.

Goodman says education issues should take center stage in the 2012 Presidential election.

“ . . . it is mind boggling to realize that just at the time that the nation is coming to grips with the importance of an educated workforce in a global economy, we are cutting funding at the national, state, and local levels for publicly supported K-12 and higher education. This is even more pronounced in Michigan,” Goodman says.

“ Teacher salaries and benefits are going down and class sizes are going up. Moreover, public university tuition for those who want to teach is going up and aid to these students is going down. Also, the interest on federally insured student loans is now immediately payable, rather being deferred for some time as previously was the case, and these loans must be paid back sooner. Let’s see, our prospective teachers have to pay more to earn less. Hmmm. What’s wrong with this picture?”

His column begins below:

Morris Goodman

I am an education snob. Among my wife two sons, daughter-in-law, and me, there are 5 Masters degrees and one law degree (yup, that’s mine). It turns out that this snobbishness is also an important employment indicator. While this is not a surprising fact, the extent of the advantage a good education provides is. Presently there are radio ads for a local college touting the fact that a person with a college degree will earn on average $1.3 million over a lifetime more than someone with only a high school degree. Quite a difference.

At the beginning of December the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the United States added 120,000 new jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 8.6%, the lowest since March 2009. In the mass of data released at the same time by the BLS, several facts leaped out at me. First of all, the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 4.4% and for those with only a high school degree the rate was 8.8% – precisely double. For those with no high school degree the rate was 13.2% or three times the rate for those with a college degree.

We all know that most new jobs being created in the U S today, even at the entry level, require more than a high school education. The auto industry used to employ just about anyone who could read and was willing to work. Recent articles about auto manufacturing jobs stress that almost all positions on the car assembly line or at parts plants require workers who have fairly sophisticated computer skills to operate the all pervasive robotic machines.

In our economic recovery, both nationally and particularly in Michigan, everything points to added employment in the next few years in auto related work. So clearly we, as a nation and state, need to put resources into preparing our student population for those kinds of jobs. Thus, it is mind boggling to realize that just at the time that the nation is coming to grips with the importance of an educated workforce in a global economy, we are cutting funding at the national, state, and local levels for publicly supported K-12 and higher education. This is even more pronounced in Michigan.

Teacher salaries and benefits are going down and class sizes are going up. Moreover, public university tuition for those who want to teach is going up and aid to these students is going down. Also, the interest on federally insured student loans is now immediately payable, rather being deferred for some time as previously was the case, and these loans must be paid back sooner. Let’s see, our prospective teachers have to pay more to earn less. Hmmm. What’s wrong with this picture?

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has made education in his city one of the top budgetary priorities, noted in a recent speech that the overwhelming majority of college graduates who now go into teaching in our country’s public schools graduate in the bottom one quarter of their class. Why would our better college graduates want to prepare themselves for a profession whose prospects are so bleak? This is not a recipe for a “Race to the Top” in producing public school students who can successfully compete in the global marketplace.

Another fact that stood out to me in the December BLS data was that unemployment among whites was 7.6% and had decreased 0.4% in November and unemployment among African Americans was 15.5% and had increased by 0.4%. This certainly makes sense because so many government jobs of all kinds are being eliminated due to falling tax revenues, and so many African Americans have government jobs. Michele Obama’s and Herman Cain’s parents both started their working lives in government jobs. So where are African Americans newly entering the workforce supposed to find work in the private sector?

We all know the financial problems, high drop out rates, and struggling single parent families plaguing the nation’s urban school districts where the majority of African American families live. We also know that Detroit and other Michigan cities are used as examples of everything that is wrong with public education. Unfortunately, with the constant pressure to cut taxes there is presently great resistance in Congress and state legislatures, including in Lansing, to financially help urban school systems improve.

Education issues should take center stage in the 2012 Presidential election. Whether that means there will be any progress towards improving the educational level of our student population is anyone’s guess? Hope springs eternal. If the Lions can make the playoffs and the Spartans and Wolverines can play in important bowl games, anything is possible. I know I ended another recent column like this. Sports are easy to use as analogies, so what the heck. 

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3 Responses to “Guest Column: Education and Employment”

  1. Chris Gaines says:

    It is a truism to say that education of children is important. However, it does not necessarily follow that increased spending on education will necessarily lead to improved quality of education and increased economic prosperity. According to the CIA’s world fact book, no country spends more money on education as a % of GDP than Cuba. Should we all assume Cuba is some educational juggernaut?

  2. Rsk173 says:

    I’ll never understand the logic that says the person in charge of children’s education shouldn’t be a highly paid professional and recieve the health care and benefits that go along w/ that.

  3. Michael D. Albano says:

    In Michigan alone, cities that are now under an EM, under threat of having an EM or even worse, cities that may have to file bankruptcy reorganization, are all cities that have far too many residents living in poverty with high crime rates due to lack of opportunities because of a lack of education. Some examples are Detroit, Inkster, Highland Park, Ecorse, River Rouge, Pontiac, Benton Harbor and Flint. In most of these poor, crime ridden cities their leaders/politicians also have far less social and management skills due to less education than more financially well-off cities. I believe this alone proves that the number one key to the possibility of better financial stability for individuals and their cites and making their city a safe city to live in is a much better education, including college or trade schools.