Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Credentialism marches on: U.S. Employers Increasingly Expect Some Education After High School

In 20 years time will a doctorate be required in order to be a bank clerk? It seems likely. The current practice is mainly designed to keep blacks out of workplaces, I suspect -- or am I not supposed to mention that? I suppose that at a minimum it shows a confidence that post-secondary qualifications still mean something, unlike black High School diplomas

The number of jobs requiring at least a two-year associate’s degree will outpace the number of people qualified to fill those positions by at least three million in 2018, according to a report being released Tuesday by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

The report makes clear that some education after high school is an increasing prerequisite for entry into the middle class. In 1970, for example, nearly three-quarters of those workers considered to be middle class had not gone beyond high school in their education; in 2007, that figure had dropped below 40 percent, according to the report.

“High school graduates and dropouts will find themselves largely left behind in the coming decade as employer demand for workers with postsecondary degrees continues to surge,’’ write the authors of the report, led by Anthony P. Carnevale.

And yet, the report further underscores a trend evident in recent years in reports of the Bureau of Labor Statistics: that sometimes a certificate in a particular trade, a two-year associate’s degree or just a few years of college may be as valuable — if not more so — to one’s career (and income) as a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree.

Mr. Carnevale told me in an interview that almost 30 percent of those people with associate’s degrees earn more, on average, than others who earned bachelor’s degrees. Similarly, more than 25 percent of those with a certificate in a particular occupation or trade earn more, on average, than those with an associate’s degree.

This is a point increasingly advanced by a group of economists, whom I quoted several weeks ago in an article under the headline “Plan B: Skip College,” in The Times’s Week in Review section.

Mr. Carnevale does break ranks with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, on its predictions of some educational requirements for certain occupations in 2018.

For example, he said, the bureau predicts that education administrators will typically require no more than a bachelor’s degree in 2018. But already, he said nearly half of education administrators have a master’s degree, and 13 percent have a doctorate in education.

Similarly, he added, the bureau predicts that a nuclear technician in 2018 will typically need no more than an associate’s degree. But already, he said, 43 percent of nuclear technicians have at least a bachelor’s degree, and sometimes a more advanced degree.

In these and other examples, he said, “those with higher educational attainment have the highest earnings, and educational attainment is continually increasing in these occupations.”


British High school bans girls from wearing skirts

A secondary school has banned girls from wearing skirts, regardless of length, to prevent them from attracting unwanted attention. The head teacher of St Aidan's Church of England High School in Harrogate, North Yorkshire imposed a complete ban on skirts because young girls were "placing themselves at risk" by raising their hemlines.

From the start of the September term, all female pupils up to the age of 15 will have to wear long black trousers.

In a letter to parents at the mixed-sex school, Dennis Richards said that the strict new uniform rules were necessary because young children were "wholly unaware of the signals they are giving out" by wearing short skirts.

He said that earlier attempts to impose a minimum skirt length had led to "battles within the family home and unnecessary and time wasting confrontation at school", making a blanket ban the only effective solution.

The head teacher wrote: "We have been seriously concerned now, for a number of years, that girls as young as 12/13 years of age are placing themselves at risk by wearing skirts of a wholly inappropriate length. "We are also aware that parents are becoming increasingly frustrated that the school seems incapable of imposing its authority on such young children. In the end we could probably do so but the cost in terms of detentions and exclusions would be very high and disproportionate to the end we would achieve."

In a statement on the school website he added: "Parents who have come in have been astonished to see the difference between the length their daughter may wear her skirt as she leaves home and what has happened by the time she is walking the corridors of the school."

Addressing sceptical parents, Mr Richards said: "The world has moved on. It is bizarre in 2010 to see wearing trousers as 'some form of punishment'."

While Mr Richards claimed to have received supportive messages from parents, the school has been criticised for failing to enforce its previous rules outlawing only shorter skirts. Margaret Morrissey of the pressure group ParentsOutloud said: "Skirts of a reasonable length have a place in any school uniform.

"If a school can't get its pupils to abide by the rules there is a problem there. It sends out completely the wrong message to children if their misbehaviour leads to a change in the rules."

North Yorkshire County Council, the local authority with responsibility for education, said it did not comment on specific uniform policies. But a spokeswoman said: "Decisions about school uniform are taken in the best interests of children by school leaders and governing bodies often in consultation with parents."

The skirt ban at St Aidan's covers pupils in Years 7 to 10. As part of the new uniform policy, girls in Year 11, who are aged 15 and 16, will be allowed to wear dark navy skirts so long as they are no more than three inches above the knee.

St Aidan's is a specialist science school with 1,898 pupils. It was praised as "an outstanding school in all respects" by Ofsted in 2006.

Other schools across the country are also tightening their uniform rules for the new academic year; Chipping Camden School in Gloucestershire has students from wearing hoodies, short skirts, denim and crop-tops.


Australia: More schools furious about "stimulus" waste

MORE schools are blowing the whistle on the wastage, shoddy construction and rorting of the Rudd government's $16.2 billion Building the Education Revolution program.

The schools have complained about overcharging -- including $23,044 in "landscaping fees" for 17 pot plants and four square metres of turf -- and substandard construction, in submissions to the NSW parliamentary inquiry into the BER.

Mary Brooksbank School, which caters for disabled students in Sydney, was given a $592,000 special purpose room with a door "not constructed to disability standards". Two covered learning areas were built at a cost of $235,000 without safety reinforcements, so their roofs had to removed for repairs. "We will not accept that faults, repairs, failure to comply with standards, incompetence should be paid for out of our BER funds," the school's P&C Association says in its submission.

Building costs at 10 schools have blown out by identical amounts totalling $4.5 million after the price of modular libraries soared from $850,000 to $1.3m. Each of the northern NSW schools, granted $850,000 last year for new libraries, has blown its budget by $453,505 -- bringing the total cost to $1.3m each.

Reed Constructions, the managing contractor for each of the projects, has been allocated a total of $73,000 in "incentive fees" for delivering on time and within budget -- on top of $494,000 in project management fees, according to costing breakdowns published on the NSW Education Department website.

Each of the public schools -- Scotts Head, Durrumbul, Leeville, Main Arm Upper, Green Hill, Caniaba, Tabulam, Tyalgum, Copmanhurst and Stroud -- has been charged $570,985 for modular building costs, $149,968 for design documentation and site management, $74,244 for "preliminaries", $210,263 for the superstructure, $90,363 for site works, $47,420 for site services and $50,000 for electricity upgrades.

A NSW Education spokeswoman yesterday said the schools were receiving "an entire new administration building on top of their allocation for a library". But the "extra" building came as news to the schools' P&Cs, which insisted yesterday that the libraries already included an administration section. "It was always one building -- half library, half administration, right from the very beginning," said Kylie Gorton, the P&C president of Stroud Public School, north of Newcastle.

Ms Gorton is furious the $1.3m building does not include the solar panels, water tank, covered walkways and airconditioning the school was promised. She said Reed Constructions had shown her paperwork at a site meeting a year ago putting the cost at $800,806, including GST. "We thought we'd have money left over," she said yesterday. "This is atrocious; I consider this an absolute waste."

Scotts Head P&C president Karen Woldring said her school's new building, incorporating a library and administration area, had initially been budgeted at $850,000 and the plans had not changed. She revealed that an official from federal Education Minister Julia Gillard's BER taskforce had visited the school two weeks ago. "We asked how it happened and he said that's what he would investigate," she said.

Tabulam P&C treasurer Sharon White said the school was "getting one building with the library and administration in it". Durrumbul P&C vice-president Abby Bliss said her school was receiving only the single building originally planned.


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