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[Susan notes: Excellent point: It’s altogether possible to be highly well-educated and still be largely unemployable.]

Published in LA Weekly

To the editor

Harold Meyerson’s argument is marred by his failure to distinguish between education and training [“Downwardly Mo,” July 20–27]. It’s altogether possible to be highly well-educated and still be largely unemployable. In fact, what education prizes, training deplores. Education is concerned with concepts, while training is concerned with techniques. As a result, possession of a college degree is no assurance of future economic well-being. If anything, it is a union card that certifies little beyond the holder’s ability to have attended four years of schooling after high school. This is particularly so because of the absence of any objective measure of the learning that took place.

It’s time that the U.S. disabused itself of the comforting delusion that the country is better able to compete in the global economy by increasing the number of graduates that colleges and universities turn out. Not only does this view falsely equate quantity with quality, but it also assumes that all fields of study in higher education are created equal in this fast-changing and highly unpredictable world. Alan Blinder makes these facts abundantly clear. Yet, it’s hard to break the hold that denial exerts on our collective thinking.

Walt Gardner

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