Friday, October 17, 2008


Folks, this post is about the Education System in America. 

I have spent a couple of weeks going through processes ad infinitum to try to utilize an opportunity that has recently been given to military spouses to further their education with a grant from the U.S. government which covers up to 2 years of school. During this process I ran into dozens of people (quantifiably more like 10, but still.....) who could not *answer* the Questions I was asking. 

Let me go backwards a bit. I heard a report on the radio about a month ago that talked about the "inflation of education" (wish I could cite it here, but I'm unable to find the exact program on N P R's website). What has happened is that colleges decided a while ago to make it easier and easier for students to get into and out of college, so they lowered the standards, made the classes easier to pass by grading on curves, offered more and more grants and easier-to-qualify-for loans, and what resulted was more and more degrees for less and less qualified graduates. So what we're suddenly seeing is --- jobs that used to just require an A.A. now require a B. A., and, where a bachelor's degree used to be sufficient education for job "X" , now employers want to see a master's. Oh yeah, and a high school diploma is practically a guarantee for homelessness.

Of course, this all ties back into the current financial crisis at a certain point, since students have to stay in school longer, racking up more debt for a longer time period in order to secure a job well-paying enough to fund their loan repayments. However, that is not so much my Beef today.

What sickens me is to see how Education, and the pursuit of knowledge, in general, has come SOOOO far downwards. While I was talking on the phone with (mostly) government employees, I tried to explain my desires to them. I want to go back to school to get a higher standard of knowledge, a better grasp on the basic subjects like History, Economics, English, the Arts, Science, and Mathematics so that I can be a better citizen (not to mention homeschooling my daughter someday), so that I can be smarter. Most of these people couldn't even process that concept. They kept repeating variations of the question, "What job do you want to do?" in order to set me up in a system of classes and curriculum, which, if I passed, would plug me into a job, then, and begin bringing in an income. It baffled them when I mentioned I already had training in a job field that brought me an income of, like,  $73,000 a year, if  I work full-time.  They had trouble conceiving of someone desiring to go to school merely for the purpose of improving their mind. 

Why has America lost that concept?

It grieves me to see the whole thing play out. Somewhere along the line, colleges wanted more students, whether for the money, I do not know....but, in the end, we're left with a concept of Education as the following: An opportunity to put oneself into debt to the state or federal government or a university in order to complete a series of classes related only to a field of work at which one will then be forced to slave away in in order to repay the government or college. None of it has anything to do with broadening one's perspectives or improving one's mind, or finding out answers to questions about economy, infertility, war, cancer, or government reform anymore.

To illustrate, in 2004 I completed a first year of college, including basic Life Information such as, biology, mathematics, history, English, and a foreign language. Folks, NONE OF THESE COURSES were transferrable to a "degree" that was being offered by this grant program. NONE OF THE PEOPLE I TALKED TO seemed to think there was anything wrong with it. They continued asking me the question, "What career would you like to pursue?"

I have to admit, throughout this whole process, it was not as much the limited schooling and dumbed-down degrees that bothered me so much as the mentality of the people in the Education System I kept running into. They remind me of telemarketers. They couldn't just listen to what I was saying, and problem solve on their own initiative. They couldn't compute my questions, because they weren't "on the list" of "answers to possible questions you might be asked" they memorized during their job training. 

I descend into cynicism. I know. But it's hard not to.  I dedicated an entire day to the Education Center here on Fort Lewis, visiting office after office (dragging poor VIolet with me) trying to get someone to tell me plainly whether or  not this grant was going to pay for me to go to school to learn anything but how to work at a job the Federal Government deemed "profitable labor." No one would just tell me straight up that, "No, we're looking to fund people who want to get a new job in Homeland Security, Public Schools, or I.T." Instead, they would cock their heads to the side and look at me strangely and wonder what else could "School" mean to this woman besides, "Better Job."

It's depressing. I still want to go back, but I'm embarrassed to try to find any other way besides just paying for it up front, since I apparently have to make up some sort of sad case in order to receive any kind of grant. We definitely don't have $10K sitting around to put into 4 years of school for me. :(

Heh. I'm also wondering......if schools are giving degrees to people like the ones I talked to over the last couple weeks.......are they places I want to go to for learning? Maybe I should just self-educate. Wiki-Graduate. :P Masters of Internet. Bachelor of .......whatever the heck I want!


Herb of Grace said...

Linky love, comin' your way.

And would you possibly consider changing your background color? It's murder on the eyes....

The Cranberry Paper said...

Hillarious isnt it? I have friends that have gone to 4 year of college....who have gotten out....have wonderful upstanding jobs....and 75 thousand dollars of student loans to pay back.....a 500 dollar a month payment! I almost want to throw my arms up and thank god that neither of us attended college! Sad...yes but so true...we are living much more comfortably and debt free than our friends who payment...student loan payment...the list goes on. It seems america in a round about way is making a life long punishment for people who go to college....sure youve got an education and a 100k a year job.....but...youre our lackey for the next 30 years!....I admire you for doing that...but the best way I have found to just expand your mind for your minds sake is to take a few random classes at a community even. then its a no questions asked. you just walk up...say "i wanna take calc." and walk away with your book and sign up sheet.

great post