This is the text of an invited address given by Gerald R. Bracey at the annual convention of the American Educational Research Association in San Diego on Tuesday, April 14, 2009. Dr. Bracey was invited to give the "Charles Degarmo Invited Lecture" to AERA. Dr. Bracey explained in an e-mail two days before he delivered the address,"What follows are the first few pages of an invited address I will give at the annual convention of the American Educational Research Association in San Diego on Tuesday. The pages quote a lot of statistics from President Obama and Secretary of Education Duncan and then show that the statistics are all wrong. It pains me to do this since I campaigned for Obama, canvassed for him, donated to the campaign and, of course, voted for him. But listening to what he says about education, it is easy to see why Diane Ravitch said that in education, Obama is a third term for Bush and Duncan is Margaret Spellings in drag.
I've excerpted Bracey on the point that most jobs in the future are fairly low level, a perfect way to explain the way the ed deformers are trying to fool the public into believing college is necessary while at the same time setting up a school system focused on test prep and narrow skills. What they are doing is serving Walmart and McDonalds future low-skilled employees.
What about those 30 fastest growing occupations? I’ve never seen that statistic presented in quite that way, but it also means that half of the 30 fastest growing jobs DON’T require a B.A. or better. But, the signal point about this statistic is that the 30 fastest growing jobs don’t account for many jobs. And the few that do are occupations like personal care aides, home health aides, nursing aides — low-paying service sector jobs needed in and for an aging nation.
Retail sales accounts for more jobs than the top ten fastest growing occupations combined. For every systems engineer needed by a computer firm, Wal-Mart needs about 15 people on the floor. The ten occupations accounting for the largest NUMBER of jobs in a Bureau of Labor Statistics projection from 2006 to 2016 were retail sales, cashiers, office clerks, registered nurses, janitors and cleaners, bookkeeping clerks, waiters and waitresses, food preparers and servers, customer service representatives, and truck and tractor drivers. I will show the falsity of Miller's and Duncan's linking of education and economic crises in detail later in the talk, but it terrifies me that our new President and Secretary of Education have apparently bought into the old falsehoods.
Little wonder that Diane Ravitch said that in education Obama was a third term for Bush and that Duncan was Margaret Spellings in drag.
Obama and Duncan seem to be following the long-established line that you can get away with saying just about anything you choose about public schools and no one will call you on it. People will believe anything you say about public education as long as it’s bad.
The real causes of the current economic mess
I think one of the reasons we see so many such comments is captured a bit in the first two quotes. Neither Miller nor the President could bring himself to actually blame the schools for today’s economic catastrophe, but they laid on them some of the responsibility for any recovery. There is a long history of trying to link test scores to a nation’s economic health. That notion needs to become extinct
Let’s take a moment to reflect on the causes of the current mess. Banks used very little capital of their own to buy extremely risky real estate assets, granting subprime mortgages and mortgages on overpriced houses, often without even making credit checks. Then they used virtually unfathomable instruments such as credit default swaps to insure against loss. But insurance companies that insured those risks, like AIG didn’t have the capital to pay off the swaps when the banks’ bets went bad. The situation has produced a slight reworking of the opening rhetorical flourishes of that landmark document, "A Nation At Risk:"
We feel compelled to report to the American people that the business and financial foundations of our society are being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people. What was unimaginable a generation ago has begun to occur—companies that extolled themselves as models of excellent practices have deceived the American people with sloppy, undisciplined, and greedy practices that are driving Americans out of their homes, threatening their retirements, and dashing their hopes of a financially secure future. Indeed, if an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre corporate financial performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.
Read it all: http://www.susanohanian.org/show_commentaries.html?id=661
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