5 in the collection
Need an Education Fact? Invent It
by Susan Ohanian
Truthiness is a dominant element in New York Times coverage of education, and Thomas Friedman is a notable practitioner.
"This is dangerous at a time when there is increasingly no such thing as a high-wage, middle-skilled job --the thing that sustained the middle class in the last generation. Now there is only a high-wage, high-skilled job. Every middle-class job today is being pulled up, out or down faster than ever" --Thomas Friedman, Need a Job? Invent It, New York Times, March 30, 2013This alarming claim is repeated over and over by reporters and editorialists across the country: Become an elite or you're nothing. Nothing is left for the middle class.
I decided to look at the jobs available in Burlington Vermont. The requirement for a few jobs is highly technical:
Most job postings are for sales and you can guess the qualifications they ask for: "Excellent communication and interpersonal skills and Personal motivation/?drive."
The Army National Guard is advertising to pay people while getting trained in jobs ranging from Dental Assistant to Light-Wheel Vehicle Mechanic to Land Combat Electronic Missile System Repairer to Intelligence Analyst. The National Guard also wants bandpersons who already know how to play Tuba, Trombone, Euphonium, Bassoon, Electric Bass Guitar, Saxophone, Flute or Piccolo, Oboe, Clarinet, French Horn, Percussion, Cornet or Trumpet, Guitar, and Keyboard.
Friedman's emphasis is, of course, on "high wage." I doubt that a Wedding Sales Stylist earns much and I don't know that I'd want to defend such a job as providing much value. But the job posting for a Senior Sonographer at the University of Vermont Hospital in interesting. Requirements include: High school graduate or equivalent, graduate of an approved CAHEA/JRCT school of Radiologic Technology, or a two year allied health equivalent. The pay ranges from $31.15 to $46.73 an hour. Plus benefits.
Probably a billionaire who lives in a house valued at $9.3 million in 2011, has a different view of "high wage," than most of us, but I'd say that qualified sonographers are doing pretty well, not to mention providing a valuable, needed service. People doing this job can have the satisfaction of doing good in addition to doing well.
Addendum: Friedman loves interviewing the guy in charge of all hiring at Google (formerly a management consultant at McKinsey & Company) and then passing on advice to anxious parents:
Okay. Full confession: I have a Master's in medieval literature and the only college course I dropped out of was Basic programming, offered by NYU as part of teacher retraining in my district. My husband warned ne against it, saying I didn't have the temperament for it.
He was more than right. I struggled and struggled and finally just quit, the only course I ever gave up on.
When you talk about high skill jobs, it really does depend on what you mean by skill. It also depends on finding out what you're good at.
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