Is Education A Robbery?
One of our expectations about education is that it willpay off1 in terms of upward mobility. Historically,the correlation between education and income hasbeen strong. But in the early 1970 s acontradiction developed between education and theeconomy. Our value of education and our averageeducational attainment outstripped the capacity ofthe economy to absorb the graduates. Since the 1970s, high-school graduates haveexperienced a striking decrease in earnings, making them the first generation since WorldWarⅡ to face a lower standard of living than their parents had.
Experts have argued that this contradiction is at the heart of the problem of public educationtoday. It is not, as business leaders claim, that the schools are failing to properly educatestudents, that they are turning out2 young people who are inadequately prepared to functionin the workplace. The real problem is a dearth of economic opportunities for students who arenot continuing on to college.
College graduates also are having difficulty finding jobs. Even when they do, the jobs may notbe commensurate with3 their training and expectations. Part of the problem is that too manyyoung Americans aspire to have professional jobs, making disappointment and frustrationinevitable for some. Many students assumed that what was true of an individu-al — that thehigher the education, the better the job opportunities —would also be true for an entiresociety4. But when the numbers of better-educated young people became too great, theeconomy could no longer absorb them
Another part of the problem is the assumption that greater educational attainment guaranteescareer advancement. In fact, employers do not routinely reward educational attainment; rather,they reward it only when they believe it will contribute to the employee's productivity.
We should not overlook the fact that there is still a strong correlation between education,occupation, and income. College graduates have a strong advantage over those with lesseducation. But the payoff is neither as large nor as certain as it once was.
Unfortunately, Americans have focused so strongly on the economic payoff that many considertheir college education useless if it does not yield a desirable, well-paying job. Only in thissense can we speak of an "oversupply" of college graduates. 5 We could argue that all or at leastthe majority of Americans would profit by some degree because higher education can enablethe individual to think more deeply, explore more widely, and enjoy a greater range ofexperiences.
A return to the past
Faced with rapid change and the fear anduncertainty1 that go with it, individuals as well asnations sometimes seek to return to the ways of thepast as a solution. in the early 1980s the idea ofreturning to the ways of the past had a strongappeal 2 to many americans who increasinglyviewed their past as being better than their future.Two famous experts have observed that until the 1970 s americans generally believed that thepresent was a better time for their country than the past and that the future would be betterthan the present; by 1978, however, public opinion polls3 showed that many americans hadcome to believe that just the opposite 4 was true: the past had been better for the country thanthe present, and the present was better than the future would be.
The popular appeal of returning to the ways of the past as a solution to the problems of the1980s was demonstrated when ronald reagan5 was elected president of the united states in1980 . time magazine chose president reagan as its "man of the year" and said of him, "intellectually, emotionally, Reagan lives in the past."
One of president reagan’s basic beliefs is that the united states should return as much aspossible to its pre-19307 ways. in those times business institutions were strong andgovernment institutions were weak. reagan believes that the american values of individualfreedom and competition are strengthened by business and weakened by government.therefore, his programs as president have been designed to greatly strengthen business andreduce the size and power of the national government. by moving in this way toward thepractices of the past, president reagan believed that the standard of living of americans wouldbegin to improve once more in the 1980s as it had done throughout most of the nation’shistory.
Television And Violent Crime
Children are born ready to imitate adult behavior.That they can imitate an array of adult facialexpressions have been demonstrated in newborns asyoung as a few hours old, before they are even oldenough to know that they have facial features. It is amost useful instinct, for the developing child mustlearn and master a vast repertoire1 of behavior inshort order.
But while children have instinctive desire to imitate, they do not possess an instinct fordetermining whether a behavior ought to be imitated. They will imitate anything, includingbehavior that most adults regard as destructive and antisocial2. It may give pause forthought, then, to learn that infants as young as fourteen months demonstrably observe andincorporate behavior seen on television.
The average American preschooler watches more than twenty-seven hours of television perweek. This might not be bad if these young children understood what they were watching. Butthey don’t. Up through ages three and four, most children are unable to distinguish fact fromfantasy3 on TV, and remain unable to do so despite adult coaching. In the minds of youngchildren, television is a source of entirely factual information regarding how the world works4 .There are no limits to their credulity. 5 To cite one example, an Indiana school board had toissue an advisory to young children that, no, there is no such thing as Teenage Mutant NinjaTurtles6. Children had been crawling down storm drains looking for them.
Naturally, as children get older, they come to know better, but their earliest and deepestimpressions are laid down at an age when they still see television as a factual source ofinformation about the outside world. In that world, it seems, violence is common and thecommission7 of violence is generally powerful, exciting, charismatic, and effective. In laterlife, serious violence is most likely to erupt at moments of severe stress — and it is preciselyat such moments that adolescents and adults are most likely to revert to8 their earliest, mostvisceral sense of the role of violence in society and in personal behavior. Much of this sense willhave come from television.