Monday, August 15, 2005

The importance of education

posted by Rob at 11:13 AM

One of my favorite topics of discussion is education, and one of my favorite columnists is Michael Barone. So of course today's Barone column on education and economic mobility is a must read:

"We cannot help noticing," Mount concludes, "that the old class system has been reconstituted into a more or less meritocratic upper tier and a lower tier which is defined principally by its failure to qualify for the upper tier."

Which is exactly what Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray predicted for America in their controversial book "The Bell Curve," published 11 years ago. Herrnstein and Murray noted that intelligence is both measurable and in some large but unquantifiable part hereditary, an unexceptionable finding for experimental psychologists but maddening to social engineers. As college education becomes open to all with the requisite intelligence, graduates will tend to marry graduates and produce children with similar intelligence, while others will tend to produce children without it.

"Unchecked, these trends," Herrnstein and Murray wrote, "will lead the U.S. toward something resembling a caste society, with the underclass mired ever more firmly at the bottom and the cognitive elite ever more firmly anchored at the top."

Which leads to the question children ask on long car trips: Are we there yet?

My sister never went to college. She's the top wage earned between my college-degree owning self and my other non-high-school-degree owning sister.

My mom's sister also never went to college and is the most wealthy person in my family. My dad never went to college was somehow earned the rank of supervisor at his job, where all othersupervisiors carry "BS" or "MA" after their name.

All three people - my sister, aunt and dad - have one trait in common. They worked their butt off. Whatever is takes to get the job done is done. Education is important, but so is motivation.


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