About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Education Improvement Needed To Avoid The Middle-Income Trap

"A properly educated workforce is an issue of deep concern to business, especially to manufacturers.  Our worry isn't just that our children are being educated poorly; it's that they're being educated poorly in the subjects most relevant to our economic well-being.  There isn't enough focus on science, technology, engineering, or math in our schools."  Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical CEO
"We have jobs going begging for...the ability to write a coherent letter, use correct grammar while speaking, understand basic mathematics, interact well with clients, & show up for work regularly...&, voila, you have an electorate that is incapable of understanding or caring what it takes to obtain & maintain a job, let alone the impending fiscal nightmare heading squarely @ them."  Julie Adamen (writing in the WSJ) – operator of an employment service that works with small businesses
"We need to make more of an effort to get parents involved in teaching reading & teaching them how to help children make sense of words they do not know."  Leslie Russell a reading specialist in Chesapeake Virginia following the announcement on Thursday that only about half of U.S. 4th, 8th, & 12th grade students knew what they are supposed to know on a new vocabulary section of the National Assessment of Education Progress exam
click on tables to enlarge
The American Council of Trustees & Alumni (ACTA) recently completed their study of 1,070 college institutions for 2012 – 2013, entitled  What Will They Learn?.  As in past years it is an excellent resource that should be checked by both parents & students before the final decision on where to go to college is made.  In fact it should be the starting point.
Now not only do employers like Dow's Mr. Liveris (see quote above & graphs) have trouble finding qualified technical people to offer jobs to but the colleges are also not turning out graduates who know the basics about our country meaning that the country is becoming very different from the one most of us grew up in if for no other reason than the young adult citizenry is so much differently educated today than during previous generations.  This is the most central problem facing America today for people who see value in holding on to our heritage.
For instance according to ACTA more college graduates know more about Lady Gaga than George Washington at the Battle of Yorktown.  Carrying this line of questioning a little farther ACTA found that less than half of college graduates (48%) knew George Washington was the American general @ Yorktown.  None of the other options (Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and William T. Sherman) were even Revolutionary War figures.  Only about half of graduates (53%) could identify the right to a speedy and public trial as not part of the First Amendment & more than 40% of graduates did not know that the Constitution established division of powers between the states and the federal government.
This is not funny even if you don't think about it.  In fact it really shows the path we are on.
Only 21 colleges and universities (less than 2%) out of the 1,070 included in the ACTA study earned an "A" grade for having at least six of the seven key courses required by ACTA for graduation.  The seven crucial subjects outside the major ACTA required of all graduates were: composition, U.S. government or history, economics, literature, college-level math, science, & intermediate-level foreign language.  Colleges are evaluated on "A" schools requiring 6-7 courses, "B" schools requiring 4-5, "C" schools requiring 3, "D" schools requiring 2, and "F" schools requiring 0-1 courses.
I thought you went to college to learn something that would give you a solid foundation for the rest of your life.  When I went to Engineering School decades ago my curriculum would have earned an "A" from a school that currently is graded "C."  As Carol often says to me about a number of things – "what the hell happened here?"
As employers, like Dow Chemical, complain about a lack of skilled workers record numbers of college graduates with tremendous student loan debt remain unemployed – showing that parents, students, & colleges & universities are all to blame for failing to prepare their graduates for success after graduation.  The above ACTA website will help to eliminate this – but parents & students have to go first & not accept degrees from well known colleges with high costs who teach nothing of value.  For instance there are some "A" graded colleges on ACTA's list that cost between a third to half of what just about all of the name universities cost.  The question is always what can you do with your education; i.e., can you get a good job to support your family, increase your standard of living, & simultaneously increase the standard of living for your fellow countrymen that automatically happens if you do the first two thereby raising the living standards of America.
My friend, Anne Neal, president of ACTA recently wrote to me "This study shows that while students, parents and taxpayers are paying a lot, they're not getting a lot in return.  Students are graduating into one of the most inhospitable job markets in American history & a time of challenging civic responsibilities; & they're doing it with record debt. What Will They Learn? examines which schools are making a solid commitment to a broad academic foundation, and which ones simply don't make the grade. Regrettably, too many do not."
In summary, colleges & universities flunk when it comes to strong general education requirements leaving gaping holes in the knowledge & understanding of college graduates.  The ACTA program provides the information needed to reverse this terrible trend.
The three schools that received a perfect seven for seven rating from ACTA were Thomas Aquinas College, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, & the University of Dallas.
The other eighteen "A" graded schools were:
Baylor University
California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo
City University of New York - Brooklyn College
Colorado Christian University
Gardner-Webb University
Kennesaw State University
Morehouse College
Pepperdine University
Regent University
St. John's College (MD)
St. John's College (NM)
Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi
United States Air Force Academy
United States Coast Guard Academy
United States Military Academy
University of Georgia
University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
University of Texas - San Antonio
Meanwhile many Americans are caught in what Professor Peter Coclanis & many development economists call a "middle-income trap"  - meaning a situation where economies stagnate after reaching a certain middle level, usually because their manufacturing & labor costs no longer allow them to compete with lower-cost producers, but their work forces aren't skilled enough to compete higher-up the value chain.  To paraphrase – "I'm pretty expensive & not very skilled." 
Professor Coclanis reports that Bangladesh textile workers earn 18.5 cents per hour & work fifty hour work-weeks minimum.  I have pointed out several times before that it is only through constant brainwashing that the government will take care of you that would allow someone to become so ill-prepared to support themselves that they are now competing with third world people who make pennies a day.
I have also presented on several occasions how value producing jobs are created by using the metaphor Professor Robert Carbaugh of Central Washington University presented to me that thinks of the world economy as a ladder with the U.S. currently on the top rung & developing nations with low tech labor intensive jobs like Bangladesh on the bottom rungs. The other countries are in between. All countries try to climb to the next rung. This works well if the topmost countries create new industries & products, thus adding another rung to the ladder like when we replaced horse drawn carriages that used buggy whips with cars. Older industries can move overseas while new jobs are generated @ home. It is when innovation stalls @ the highest rung that the portion of Americans near the bottom of the income distribution must compete with workers in developing countries. This is what we are facing today as far too many Americans are poorly educated with skills so limited that no employer can use them as explained above.
Please contact me if you would like help re the ACTA website.  Higher education in America is one of my two passions – the FairTax is the other.


  1. Doug - school vouchers would improve our school system via competition. It would also allow those of low income aspiring to better education a choice they do not have now. However this policy would weaken the Left's drive to increase the Dependency on Government class, their ticket to election victories and power. Meanwhile the US economy functions way below its capacity.

    Action: educate our electorate about the benefits of school choice.

  2. You said it right TH! That's a great idea. By that way we can truly improve the quality of our education but can drive to political issue as well. It's not a big issue. As you said, as an action, we can educate those electorate to come up with a good government. So, why don't we do it?

  3. Another way to improve the quality of our education in universities is through the budget. The government must put a higher budget intended to school buildings, books, chairs and other school facilities that could make the students feel comfortable in their studies.