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Higher education: the myth
by Travus T. Hipp
Mar 06, 2010 | 910 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Thursday last was a day of protest in the educational industrial complex, nationwide. In my day we seized buildings to complain over the lack of reality based curriculum and or such incidental issues as civil rights and America's overseas wars, but last week's marches and bonfires were over money. How American!

The objections are rooted in the popular belief that the new century will be dominated by higher technology and thus the jobs market will need highly trained workers, all of whom will need some sort of "sheepskin" to prove employability. In order to fill this self-defined need, the educational focus has shifted and the standards lowered to accommodate the deficiencies of the public schools, whose academic skills rate somewhere between sixth and eighth grade as measured against entry exams from only two decades past.

The corporate leadership of our education gulag have perverted their mission by taking grants for research that serves commercial interests rather than pursuing academic curiosity to breakthrough discoveries. Environmental dangers are ignored in favor of fully funded pesticide experiments. Electrical energy applications that decrease demand or diversify generation lose out to mammoth solar farm projects in the desert with the same grid system profit for the same barons of power into the future.

The world of information exclusivity is rapidly fading into history with other primitive eras. Internet and satellite communications have made all knowledge available to all people at all times. The workforce demands of current corporate entities can easily be satisfied with home study programs directed to special job skills in the ever changing job search that is modern life. This would leave the "hallowed halls of ivy" to their natural denizen; abstracts academics whose sole objective in life is figuring out what’s going on and explaining their own interpretation of the events and times.

And who says that the high tech future will demand skilled labor anyway? The education lobbyists demanding ever-increasing funds from state and federal budgets to keep them employed training the novices, that’s who.

In my youth I worked as a survey aide on a crew laying out hydro-electric dams along the Pitt River in California. I had to master the various skills of chain measurement, field note creation and the logarithmic reductions of same to topographic maps, all by hand. Today the only requirement for survey aides is an ability to stand still and talk on a cell phone. The date is entered on handheld instruments from a laser "gun," downloaded into a desktop which spits out not only the map but an estimate of the volume of earth to be moved and the cost of materials. Any idiot high school student can do the work, and the pay reflects the boss's awareness of that fact, and the number of equally untrained job seekers are waiting to take the job.

In a world where tech replaces skill, and Universities are Job Corps analogs, higher education just ain’t getting high enough.

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