Another View of Arne Duncan's Back To School

Guest Author: Ozzie Banicki

There is an old saying, “I can’t lay eggs but I know a good one from a bad one.”

The results of G20 pretty much destroyed the basic premise of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s education policy stated in his article called “Back to School: enhancing U.S. education and competitiveness” in Foreign Affairs Magazine November/December 2010.

Ironically, his insight is a good example actually laying an egg and not knowing it was a bad one.

The huge rejection of trade results in the G 20 summit, and a manipulated yen by China and similar acts of currency manipulation by other countries should be obvious, even our exporting of re-cycled materials has collapsed. Mr. Duncan, protectionism exists.

That is why Mr. Duncan’s basic premise for pushing our students to engage in technology jobs abroad is a fruitless and foolish piece of educational policy.

It should be apparent to Mr. Duncan that we are outsourcing technicians because it is cheaper to hire personnel from poor countries, and it’s going to remain that way. The poor nations will always out-bid our own citizens for U.S. jobs in the supportive technical fields.

Therefore, the only good reason go reason to push technology education is for jobs requiring a presence here in the United States, e.g. sophisticated cash registers.

The upper levels of cyber knowledge—invention—are doing very well in the engineering universities in this country, regardless of how many PhD engineers foreigners are producing. Invention is a creative process, not strictly a technical process. MIT and the likes are generating creative minds in engineering.

Interestingly, Mr. Duncan does briefly identify what should be a focus in his educational policy in the middle of column one, page 72:

Employers repeatedly, report that they seek college graduates with the ability to adapt, innovate, synthesize data, communicate effectively, learn independently and work in teams just as regularly, they complain that U.S. postsecondary institutions fail to adequately develop these skills in students.

What’s wrong with the above suggestion?--nothing. Why doesn’t he elaborate on that?

Mr. Duncan’s focus is online education because he is thinking knowledge, not people skills. Performance and content-based education are two different things. Online tech may address content-based education for those students who cannot be at the university in person, but it is not a substitute for the quality people skills portion of development demanded by those employers he just earmarked.

Clearly, the U.S. Secretary of Education is selling a misdirected educational policy. He is not alone, recent Secretaries of Education did the same. We need to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education and the Departments of Education of all fifty States and ignore Accreditation Institutions. So what if a kid has to graduate late? He/she has the right to a life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Independent School Districts should determine minimum curriculum and be accountable through local political systems and fundamental Bill of Rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution


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