It must be my week for finding inspiration in the New York Times.
This time it’s in one of Paul Krugman’s columns from last week in which he takes some pretty substantial whacks at the universal truth among politicians and other “experts” that “education is the key to economic success”.
Krugman offers his long term vision that the US will actually need fewer college trained workers, not more, due more to changes in our society than anything to do with our education system.
But there are things education can’t do. In particular, the notion that putting more kids through college can restore the middle-class society we used to have is wishful thinking. It’s no longer true that having a college degree guarantees that you’ll get a good job, and it’s becoming less true with each passing decade.
So if we want a society of broadly shared prosperity, education isn’t the answer – we’ll have to go about building that society directly. We need to restore the bargaining power that labor has lost over the last 30 years, so that ordinary workers as well as superstars have the power to bargain for good wages. We need to guarantee the essentials, above all health care, to every citizen.
And all that is going to require huge changes in societal attitudes and vision, not increasing student scores on meaningless tests and pushing more of them into college.