Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tom Torlakson for California State Superintendent of Schools

I've never endorsed any candidate on this blog but I'd like to encourage you to vote for Tom Torlakson. His opponent is a good man, a reasonable man, but there are a couple of significant differentiators:
  • Torlakson believes that one-size education does not fit all--Not every student should be forced into a college-preparatory curriculum. He opposes the "everyone to college" fad.
Tom recognizes that some students, for example, those still reading on a fifth grade level when entering high school, are far more likely to find school, employment and life success in a career-technical curriculum: Instead of learning abstractions about the Peloponnesian Wars and geometric theorems, students in career-technical courses learn in a concrete context, which, for example, would prepare them for in-demand occupations such as robotics technician, chef, or medical equipment repairer.
Not surprisingly, when students who were weak academically K-8 are forced into a college-preparatory set of courses, they're more likely to drop out of high school and certainly from college. And even if they defy the odds and graduate, it will likely be with a low GPA from a third-tier college in a not-marketable major. With today's oversupply of college graduates and shortage of job openings, few employers will be excited to see an applicant with sociology degree and 2.5 GPA rom Cal State, Dominguez Hills. Tom Torlakson recognizes, indeed prioritizes the importance of high quality, well-suited options for all students.
  • Unlike his opponent, Tom has had experience both as a teacher and as a respected and well-liked California state legislator. That combination is key to getting things done legislatively.
So I encourage you to vote for Tom Torlakson.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting that you would prefer the candidate enthusiastically backed by the teachers' union over the one interested in reforming the current system in which seniority trumps all else.

Marty Nemko said...

The candidates differ very little in how they'd react to the teachers union pressures. For example, Torlakson's opponent supports teacher tenure, perhaps extending the probationary period for teachers from two to three years. Torlakson's position is not dissimilar. So, the difference between the candidates re the teachers union is not large enough to make that a reason to vote for one candidate versus the other. The two factors I cited are.

Marlo said...

If I lived in California I would definitely vote for him. American high schools desperately need a two track system so students who are less interested in liberal arts can learn trades, and students who prefer "well roundedness" can recieve a traditional education, assuming they have good teachers.

And it's not just sociology majors who end up wasting time and money in college. It's fairly common nowadays to hear stories of unemployed people with degrees in Engineering, Statistics and Computer Science--majors that were practically guarantees of employment in the past. At this point I'm convinced that college is best suited for the fortunate few who can get into the very top schools and have the personality to make the necessary connections that will ultimately lead to a good job.

ST said...

I agree that just because your major is in something like computer science that you are not guaranteed a job. There's a secondary problem, really. People in technical college courses can just squeak by with a C average, not to mention possibly not even doing their own work most of the time. To get a job in a computer related field for example, you need to be pretty good at thinking logically, programming, being a persistent problem solver, etc.

So, here you are with a degree in an in-demand field, but you really aren't qualified to do the work with any mastery. So, you end up either with a second tier job related to computers, or you don't even go into the field. Besides that, you still don't have a liberal arts education and can't write an intelligent e-mail. In this case, I'd rather just have the general liberal arts degree. At least I might have learned to write a little better.

I know there are other reasons for well-qualified and talented people to have a hard time finding work, but that ends up being a problem of too high a salary before, burning bridges, being in too narrow of a specialty, etc (too old?). With a tech degree, you have to keep retraining and broadening your chances of finding further employment (if you even want to stay in the field, which a lot really don't when it comes down to it).

Marty Nemko said...

Good points, ST.

Dave said...

Why do degrees have to be marketable? I hate the utilitarian approach to higher education. Students today don't attend college/university for an education. A career and higher standard of living is what they are after. Materialism and the higher ed. model that emerged in the 20th century is to blame for this.

I think institutions of higher education have to do some serious soul searching and must rethink their mission and purpose. Specialisms are not the be all and end all of higher education. We have technical schools for that purpose. Top colleges and universities can't meet the needs of future generations of priests, philosophers and other enlightened social critics when the majority of their resources are wasted on business schools.

Marty Nemko said...

Dave, alas millions of students at 2nd and 3rd tier institutions are forced into a liberal arts education for which they are unprepared and unmotivated. And they thus drop out or graduate with huge debt and unemployable--a 2.5 from Illinois State Univ. with a major in sociology is going to excite few employers. The doppelganger, linear algebra, and the Pelopponesian Wars--are those really worth being homeless for?

Dave said...

But the business schools and the law schools have become diploma mills. Newly minted MBAs numbered 5,000 annually in the early 1960s. I believe the number is 500,000 today. Law is no different. We poison ourselves and our society with endless litigation.

Careerism and dogmatic liberalism have devalued higher education. The goal for today's college students is a degree, not an education.


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