#6: Leave Children Behind: Don't Prepare Everyone for College
The U.S. education system is based on the meritocratic principle that no matter what the circumstances of a child's birth, each should have a baseline level of education and the opportunity to go on to college.
But Robert Lerman, an economist at American University, tells Big Think that for a large number of high school students, college preparatory courses aren't useful and won't prepare them for their future careers. He says we need to face reality and retool our education system to acknowledge not everyone is meant to go to college—and many shouldn't be educated with that goal in mind.
Lerman outlines four reasons for why our college-oriented education system is wrong:
Lerman questions the much-touted federal initiative known as Common Core Standards, which, he argues, is "piling on lots of advanced course material that would be a requirement for high school education. My view is that even though lots of states are now adopting them, or at least claiming that they will, that this is a bad idea." Adopting the standards—as 35 states have done so far—gives states points in the "Race to the Top" program and access to $3.4 billion in federal grants.
"It is trying to impose much higher standards on everybody before they are able to achieve a
really solid grounding in the basic skills," Lerman says. "This is where a lot of the employability problems arise." He cites a study from Northeastern University sociologist Michael Handel which found that only 9 percent of the overall workforce use Algebra-2 level math; and fewer than 20 percent of managerial and technical workers report using it.
The solution, according to Lerman, is incorporating vocational platforms for students, rather than an automated track toward college: "These are not necessarily classes, but might include methods of learning on the job and interactive, work-based learning paired with traditional school learning."
Economist Robert Lerman challenges the idea that our public school system should prepare everyone to go to college. Many college-track courses in high school—like Algebra 2—do not give students skills they will need in the real world.
Why We Should Reject This Idea
College is a ticket to higher wages, and to deprive people of that ticket seems unjust. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2009 a high school graduate earned a median wage of $626 per week while a college graduate earned $1,025 per week. More education, according to the report, translated to an increase in earnings. The report also showed a decrease in unemployment rates with each successive degree.
—Robert Lerman and Arnold Packer, "Will We Ever Learn: What's Wrong with the Common-Standards Project," Education Weekly.
—U.S. Census Report: "The Big Payoff: Education Attainment and the Synthetic Estimates of Work-life Earnings."
— Common Core State Standards Initiative homepage.
Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.
- Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
- There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
- "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.
PAUL RATJE / Contributor
- This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
- UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
- TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.