Letters to the Editor

Readers write about whether college is necessary for every American student, and looking for new solutions to America's educational problems.

Is college necessary for every American student?

Regarding the Dec. 26 Opinion piece, "Save the economy: bail out our kids": Author Rick Dalton does a disservice to the students in his organization when he maintains that they are doomed unless they graduate from college. This argument has been repeated so often that it is now uncritically accepted, despite compelling new evidence to the contrary.

According to Alan Blinder, former vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, the only safe jobs in the next two decades will be those unable to be sent abroad electronically. As a result, auto mechanics, plumbers, and electricians, for example, whether they have a degree or not, will be working steadily. Meanwhile, their white-collar degreed counterparts will be collecting unemployment checks.

There are, of course, other reasons for earning a college degree, but they need to be evaluated by each student personally. This is particularly so today as tuition skyrockets and the economy continues to deteriorate.

Walt Gardner
Los Angeles

Maybe the reason we have such an income gap is overtaxation and too much regulation on businesses, which forces them to go somewhere else in the world. Throw in some healthy inflation created by the Federal Reserve and you have what we have today.

Giving everyone a college education isn't going to magically solve our problems or make us any more stable in the future.

I also don't like the idea of a "climate of expectation" among the students that they will go to college. Many students cannot find jobs after graduating college. I knew several people who were doing something that didn't require a college education after college (which pushes out the people that didn't go to college but could still perform the job just fine). So I wouldn't be so sure that college is the Holy Grail that will solve our widening income gap.

Erik Anderson
Shoreline, Wash.

US needs innovative education solution

Regarding the Dec. 19 editorial, "Obama's can-do education pick": I am skeptical about any more-of-the-same policies toward secondary education. As a new educator, I see that the two main remedies currently used are misguided.

First, the No Child Left Behind law punishes ailing school administrations but does nothing to address their problems. Punishing an employee who has only partial responsibility for a task is poor management.

The other cure, increasing salaries for teachers, is equally off target. Teacher salaries are low, but not unreasonable. Teachers in general, whatever their salaries, are intensely devoted to providing the best for their students, often spending their own money on school materials.

More accountability and higher salaries won't do it. As the American psychologist Abraham Maslow once said, "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you treat everything like a nail." A true solution for our education problem awaits an innovative tool.

Lynn Asutin
Campbell, Calif.

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