Failing Schools and International Competitivenes
I sympathise with Jaime Gass. See "Rounding out our future work force" in today’s Boston Globe. No one would disagree that our schools, in particular the failing public schools in our inner cities, should be improved for the kids who attend these schools. However, to make a connection, as so many including Jaime Gass seem to do, between these failing schools and our economic competitiveness, is totally without basis in fact. We are living in, and we have been for at least two generations or more, a society where these failing schools are the norm (a situation, by the way, which no one so far has been able to change for the better, probably because it’s a social, economic, and cultural problem combined, more than just a problem within the schools themselves). And in spite of this, in spite of the large numbers of failing schools, large numbers of high school and college dropouts, and all of these and other deplorable statistics, it’s a fact that during this period the United States has led the world in creative entrepreneurship and resulting increased economic productivity (witness the recent comment by the Singapore foreign minister pointing to the great success of their kids in school, but then their failure thereafter relative to Americans no longer in school but now in the workforce).
Gass says that the “decline of American manufacturing and job losses due to outsourcing are exacerbated by the lack of academic excellence and the inequality of opportunity in too many school districts.” But there are absolutely no statistics that back this up. Indeed, more and better educated high school graduates would probably mean even greater losses due to outsourcing (and, perhaps even more detrimental to our economy, fewer highly educated and capable immigrants, although for obvious reasons this would most likely not happen), because the latter is most of all looking for a cheap (capable, but not necessarily well educated) labor pool, and well educated graduates are certainly not the cheap labor pool that the outsourcers go to Mexico, China, India et al in order to find. Outsourcing stems from a basic principle of economics, that which says that companies will always seek the most cost efficient means of making their products, whether the latter be wooden matches or sewing needles, computers or automobiles. The only way to stop outsourcing is to have equally expensive/inexpensive labor pools throughout the world (and then the world would be “flat”). The highly desirable goal of improving our schools for our most disadvantaged kids should not be confused with the no less desirable goal of insuring that our economy continues to compete successful with the growing economic juggernauts of India and China. So far not the quality of the graduates of our inner city high schools, but, and I admit the irony of this, the steady stream of highly educated immigrants to our country, has been probably the most significant factor enabling us to remain competitive.Explore posts in the same categories: Education