Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Minor Musing About Who Should Pay For Job Training

Governor Daugaard continues to insist that education's primary purpose is preparing one for the workplace over preparing one to participate in broader public square as a citizen. Over at Dakota Free Press, Cory does an excellent job of pointing out the error in that, dare I say, philosophy. Cory concludes,
Unaccounted for in the Governor’s argument is what those aspiring engineers, accountants, nurses, and welders will do with their job-specific high school curriculum twenty years from now when economic forces, experiences, and unforeseen changes of plan render the jobs they thought at age 15 they would do forever untenable, or what knowledge and skills they might find helpful in leading purposeful, fulfilling lives during the two thirds of their working life and the three thirds of their retirement when they won’t be on the job. Those liberal arts still be darned; we’ve got cogs to mill for the economic machine!
If students are to be prepared solely to be chewed up by cogs of the economic machine, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Kurt Evans throws the proverbial monkey wrench into those cogs by taking Daugaard's premises to their logical ultimate conclusion and then prompting a question that the Governor seems to ignore.
We may need a social consensus for state government to teach elementary students literacy and basic arithmetic, but if a vo-tech does things you don’t like, no government should force you to pay for it.
If the goal of education is to create citizens who can reason and knowledgeably participate in discussions in the public square, then the public should pay for education. If, however, the purpose is solely to prepare someone for a specific job, the public requires only basic literacy and arithmetic. After all, no one wants people holding up the line in the grocery store incorrectly arguing that the person behind the counter gave them the wrong change. In a world of economics uber alles, people still need to read the advertisement copy.

The question then becomes who should pay for the rest. Daugaard never entertains the question. Evans, the consistent Libertarian, hints that the duty should fall on the workplace. Instead of "Our Town Public School" we could have "Fast Food High School" or "Welders and Assemblers Private Institute." A chain of entities called "The Walmart Superschools" could dot the landscape. Whether Daugaard admits it or not, his educational philosophy will eventually lead to the same result only with public funding. It seems reminiscent of the medieval guild system rather than a system to take on 21st Century challenges.

The purpose of education should remain developing citizens who can think creatively and communicate effectively. Schools can improve, but turning them into institutions that create workers prepared for a job that will disappear in 10 years is not going to provide that improvement.

No comments: