Friday, January 07, 2011

How Far Does an American college education take You?

It is ingrained in the heads of the youth that you must go to college to get a good job. While overall that is good advice, some graduates are finding their $100,000 educations haven’t provided them with the necessary skills for the modern work world.

College is more expensive than ever forcing students to pay more than 400 percent more for a college education today than 30 years ago. And as a result of increased tuition costs, students are carrying mountains of debt and aren’t finding the high-paying, coveted jobs promised to them upon graduation.

In fact, an article by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) highlighted the trend of useless college degrees and cited a study that showed “60 percent of the increase in the number of college graduates from 1992 to 2008 worked in jobs that the (Bureau of Labor Statistics) considers relatively low skilled — occupations where many participants have only high school diplomas and often even less.”

The article went on to say, “Of the nearly 50 million U.S. college graduates, 17.4 million are holding jobs for which college training is regarded as unnecessary. The number of waiters and waitresses with college degrees more than doubled in the years 1992-2008, from 119,000 to 338,000, and cashiers with college degrees rose from 132,000 to 365,000.”

What happened to the American Dream for the youth of America?

It’s simple. Because of the push for American youngsters to get college degrees through government subsidies, a four-year degree is becoming less valuable in the working world. Therefore, students graduating with a bachelor’s degree are finding it necessary to get a master’s degree or even a Ph.D to set themselves apart from the masses in order to find a relatively good job that requires their degree.

This new reality, coupled with rising tuition costs, leaves students with a mountain of debt. How are the “5,057 janitors in the U.S. with Ph.D.’s, other doctorates, or professional degrees” ever supposed to pay off all that accrued school debt?

The Project on Student Debt estimates that 206,000 Americans graduated from college with more than $40,000 in student loan debt during 2008. Also shocking is a statistic printed in the Business Insider stating that, “Americans now owe more than $875 billion on student loans, which is more than the total amount that Americans owe on their credit cards.”

And what does the government do about it? It further encourages children to go to college getting any degree necessary to graduate while pushing financial assistance, which often comes in the form of a student loan. And cash-strapped states have no problems upping the tuition for public universities in order to obtain more revenue while at the same time cutting faculty and class options.

America is failing its college students by teaching them it’s okay to take on a mountain load of debt in an economy where there is no guarantee they’ll be able to pay it off.

“There are 2.37 million unemployed college graduates. That’s staggering,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “The number rises to 5.6 million when you also look at those with some college or an associate degree. We are doing a true disservice to our youth by pushing them along a path that offers no guarantee of success. The government’s continued push to educate America by any means necessary has only caused an education debt bubble, much like the housing crisis bubble, which we are still recovering from.”

An article in Forbes suggested that America would be better off with much less government subsidies for education. One of those reasons, “The statistical correlation between state government higher education spending and economic growth is negative, not positive, suggesting the positive economic spillover effects of governmental university aid are non-existent and maybe even negative.”

The author states that despite more youth attaining higher education, “voter participation has not risen, volunteerism has not dramatically increased, and other alleged social positive spillover effects of more higher education are not apparent.”

Instead America has created a glut of college-educated young adults facing a debt burden that has possibly pushed them even farther from the American Dream then before their college days.

As students work their way through college, they need to ask themselves if they are getting a valuable education. It is the job of both students and parents to hold college administrators accountable and make sure their education is a worthy investment.

Any other product that costs $100,000 that proves to not meet its advertised claims would not stand a chance in the marketplace. It is time for colleges to increase their value to students and society all while lowering their costs.


Victory for honesty and decency over the vindictive and irresponsible bureaucracy at a British school

"I cried and cried when they told me I'd won": Dinner lady speaks out after tribunal rules she was unfairly fired for telling parents of bullying

A School dinner lady who was sacked after inadvertently speaking to a pupil’s parents about a bullying incident wept for joy after winning an employment tribunal, she revealed yesterday. Carol Hill, 60, has endured a 19-month ordeal since helping seven-year-old Chloe David, who had been tied to a fence and whipped with a skipping rope by four children.

When she later bumped into the schoolgirl’s parents at a Beaver Scouts meeting, she assumed they had been told and asked how she was – only to discover they had been informed she had suffered a ‘minor accident’.

Mrs Hill was suspended by headteacher Debbie Crabb and spoke to a newspaper about her distress. She was dismissed three months later for breaching confidentiality and bringing the school into disrepute.

But an employment tribunal has now ruled she was unfairly dismissed from Great Tey Primary School, near Colchester. A further hearing next month will decide whether she should be reinstated and how much compensation she should receive.

‘When I was told I had won I couldn’t believe it. I cried and I couldn’t stop,’ said Mrs Hill, who described her treatment as ‘barmy and ridiculous’. ‘I lost weight and my hair thinned because of the stress. My husband Ron and I have had our ups and downs too. We’ve argued and it was all my fault because I was so anxious and worried. ‘I’m not like that normally and I have apologised to him – he’s such a laid-back person and has acted as a buffer for me.

‘The worst part was not being at the school any more. Not because of the money – I only got about £125 a month – but because of the job itself. I love kids and to be taken away from them like I was some sort of criminal was heartbreaking.’

Mrs Hill, who has been working as a cleaner since losing her job, added she would not have a problem returning to the school. ‘I have been cleared, so I will happily walk back in. It’s not like my path crossed with the headteacher’s all that much anyway,’ she said.

The mother-of-two, who worked one hour a day at the school, was patrolling the playground in June 2009 when a pupil told her another child was being bullied. She found the sobbing victim tied to a chain-link fence, with rope burns on her wrist and whip marks on her legs. The bullies were punished by being made to miss part of their lunch break.

When Chloe went home, she was given an ‘accident notification letter’ from the school which mentioned her injuries but not how they happened. She was too upset to tell her parents, Scott and Claire, any more and it was only when Mrs Hill, who lives in Great Tey, started chatting to them innocently that evening that they learned the truth.

She was suspended after the couple raised concerns with the school and sacked shortly afterwards, despite Mr David calling for her to be allowed to return to her job.

An appeal was dismissed in November 2009, even though Ed Balls, then Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, wrote to the chairman of governors demanding an investigation into the school’s ‘totally inadequate’ handling of the affair.

During the hearing at Bury St Edmunds Employment Tribunal in November, headteacher Mrs Crabb said Mrs Hill had been sacked for talking to the press. But the tribunal yesterday ruled that the governors had not carried out a reasonable investigation into the allegations and that the disciplinary and appeal hearing were not fair.

The remedies hearing, when Mrs Hill will be told whether she can be reinstated and compensated, will be held on February 2 and 3.

Father-of-four Mr David, who took Chloe and her younger brother Cameron, five, out of the school after Mrs Hill was dismissed, said she had been used as a scapegoat to cover the school’s lack of action. ‘We were disgusted [at the dismissal]. Carol’s whole life was the school and making the children happy,’ he added.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, which represented Mrs Hill at the tribunal, said: ‘Unison has always believed in her case.’

A spokesman for Great Tey School and Essex County Council admitted the dismissal procedures had been flawed but said the tribunal had found against Mrs Hill in some areas, including that she was ‘not acting in good faith when speaking to the press’. He added: ‘The claimant’s predominant motive was self-interest and to a lesser extent antagonism towards Mrs Crabb. The tribunal also ruled that disclosures were not protected under the Employment Rights Act, therefore she was not acting as a whistleblower.

‘The council and school will now be considering all the options before making any further decisions or announcements.’ The council also disputed Unison’s interpretation of the tribunal’s lengthy judgment, claiming it was ‘inaccurate’ to say Mrs Hill had won her claim for unfair dismissal.

Mrs Crabb told the panel that Mrs Hill was sacked for committing the 'offence' of 'going to the press'. Mrs Hill's decision to give details of the incident to the child's parents was a breach of confidentiality which would have earned her a 'final warning', said Mrs Crabb. But by 'talking' to a journalist, Mrs Hill brought the school into disrepute and had to be dismissed, she added.

A Unison spokeswoman added: 'The tribunal has upheld Carol Hill's complaint of unfair dismissal. 'The employment tribunal found that Carol's dismissal was procedurally unfair, in that the (school) did not carry out a reasonable investigation into the allegations against Carol, and that the disciplinary and appeal hearings were not fair hearings.'

Unison said the tribunal panel would consider whether Mrs Hill should be compensated and reinstated at a hearing in Bury St Edmunds on February 2. General secretary Dave Prentis said: 'It has been a long and very difficult wait for this ruling from the employment tribunal for Carol and her family over Christmas and the New Year.

'I am sure they will be very pleased that the wait is over and the tribunal has found in her favour. She now faces another month until the remedies hearing and that cannot be easy. Unison has always believed in her case and we will be there to support her at the hearing.'

Mrs Hill added: 'The remedies hearing will be the last step in a very long and hard journey.'


Australia: Piggyback rides banned in Catholic schools

This seems excessive

Catholic clergy have been banned from giving children piggyback rides under child protection policies introduced by an outer Melbourne parish. The new policies, aimed at preventing abuse, include bans on inappropriate embracing, or contacting children through Facebook or SMS. They are being introduced at parishes in Lilydale and Healesville this year.

Guidelines will apply to all priests, parish workers, staff and volunteers representing the church, including those at associated schools St Patrick's and St Brigid's Catholic primary schools. The policies, believed to be the first in Melbourne, were put into place after two allegedly abusive priests served in the district.

Conduct deemed acceptable includes "high fives", pats on the shoulder or back, holding hands with small children, handshakes, and verbal praise.

The rules say any emails sent to minors should have parents or guardians copied in, and any phone calls should be made to the family home. Social networking is not considered an appropriate way for an adult to socialise with a child.

Inappropriate embraces, kisses on the lips, wrestling, holding minors over four on the lap, giving or receiving any type of massage, and tickling minors are all on the banned list.

Father Julian Langridge, who led the formation of the policies, based them on Catholic protocols followed Australia-wide, said Bishop Les Tomlinson, Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. "It is taking an ultra-cautious approach, but it is partly about rebuilding confidence by making clear exactly what boundaries in which the clergy will function," Bishop Tomlinson said.

He said Fr Langridge decided the guidelines would be a positive thing for his parish. "And I agree with that," he said.


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