Across the U.S., millennials are entering college and the workforce. These products of modern education are finding the world a somewhat hostile place, with its lack of participation trophies and safe places. These are kids who grew up never knowing the dreaded red pen mark-up, or even seeing an F. Patted on the back of showing up, and told they deserved what they did not earn, these children of the new century are entering society utterly unprepared for life.
Hedged off from reality through all their primary and secondary schooling, they found college merely a continuation of their perpetual adolescence. Many taking classes and earning degrees that have no marketability. Oblivious to the real world, they have created a huge college debt crisis as they contemplate whether to ever leave home.
The truth is, many of these kids should of never went to college. An over/ill educated populous is as dangerous to societal development as a wide spread ignorance. Pampered fools, who see themselves above physical laborers, often become useless parasites.
Cut-off from the reality of previous generations, most millennials haven’t had the chance to become grounded adults. Some of this is the fault of legislative foolishness, like barring them from farm and other summer work, and minimum wage shenanigans that priced them out of the marketplace. Adding to their woes is the condescending attitude their teachers have towards trades work.
These kids not only grew up pampered and buoyed by unearned praise, they were discouraged from potentially successful careers. The k-12 system in the U.S. was once tuned to creating a balanced society, with tracks for trades in the form of shop classes, and building programs, as well as preparatory programs for the college bound. Unfortunately, the first has been slowly phased out, while the second touted as the only path with a future. The reality of course is much different. For many, college has proven to be the dead end.
At the same time, many top paying jobs are being left unfilled. The nation needs people to enter the skilled trades: carpenters, electricians, plumbers, welders, and mechanics. Even semi-skilled trades like flooring, drywall, and painting are in demand. These old school jobs are also rewarding careers. For many, these offer their best shot at success.
Despite what those steeped in college educated ignorance, these are not jobs for dummies. All the skilled trades require some knowledge of algebra and geometry. In some cases, the mathematics demanded is quite advanced. Even semi-skilled laborers need to be able to calculate areas, percentages, and understand product data-sheets. These are not poorly compensated either, in some areas a good skilled tradesman can earned more than a Doctor. Nonetheless, throughout their pre-college years millennials were taught they had to go to college, or they wouldn’t be successful. Parents also were sold a similar pack of lies. If their kid goes to college, the story goes, it is something to be proud of. A kid that becomes a plumber, not so much.
This trickle down elitism is destroying lives, creating huge debts, and undermining American competitiveness. Job satisfaction comes from doing something well, and seeing the fruits of one’s labor. Talk to a welder who took a pile of scrap and made tank base, or plumber whose piping jobs are a work of art. They will tell you, their work is immensely fulfilling. Now ask accountants and computer programmers the same thing. This is not to put down one job, or the other. Society needs both, and people suited for one may not be suited for the other. That’s the beauty of a properly functioning society.
By discounting education in hands on jobs, and purely promoting a pie in the sky college utopia, the American education system has disrupted the balance needed in a healthy workforce.
To their credit, some have been ringing the warning bells regarding the issue. John Ratzenberger of Cheers fame has been a relentless advocate for shop classes in k-12 schools, even donating his own money to advance the cause. Similarly, Dirty Jobs icon Mike Rowe is constantly on TV trying to advocate for skilled trade careers. The actions of these men, while admirable, have not been enough to stem the tide of misinformation taught in schools across the nation. The truth is, the attack on physical labor is only part of the liberalism’s caustic effect on society. Nonetheless, this stuck up attitude towards those who oil the wheels of commerce is creating havoc.
Just as the swamp denizens in DC need a reality check, the state of American education needs one too. Giving back school control to parents would be a good start. So would school choice, not just in where kids attend, but in the kind of curriculum presented. For this to happen, America needs to stop the snobbery, and face reality. All workers are worthy of their wage, and no man earning his way is better than another. The main objective in life should be to contribute to the best of your ability, and whatever path affords the best chance to do that is the one to take.
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P.S. Many who may want to take exception to this article, will point to the well published short fall in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) graduates. The truth is, there is no short fall in Americans graduating in STEM subjects. Every year more STEM students graduate than there are openings for them. The technology companies backing this false narrative want more H1-B visas so they can import talent for lower cost. This is what Disney (and many others) have done. Firing their American tech. workers so they could replace them with much lower paid foreign ones. This is the real STEM story, one of artificially low wages driving STEM graduates into higher paid alternatives if they can find it (That is if they are given a choice at all!).
There is also the point that a large percentage of STEM jobs do not require degrees. Graduates of technology trade schools, or even self taught techies fill many of these positions as well.