Secondary Education and Beyond

Honest Work
   There is a cry for everyone to go college as if a college education is a panacea for all worker's ills.  This is buncombe.  The list of successful people who did not go to college far exceeds those who did.  Our deepest need is soft skills: timeliness, courtesy, manners, appropriate attire, self-respect, and respect for others and institutions.  Next are technical skills: communication verbally and in writing in the dominant idiom, being at least eighth grade English (preferably eleventh); eighth grade mathematical skills (Algebra) and rudimentary computer software skills (Spreadsheets, Word Processing, Databases).
   There are also a lot of people who do not get full benefit from a high school (i.e., Secondary school) education: they need to get a job and learn in the ancient school of hard knocks,  We need to find a way to put fourteen-year olds to work, particularly those falling off the behavioral paths.  The calm demeanor required for academic study does not always become adolescents, and work study programs would be better suited for them.  Three to five hours of labor coupled with two to three hours of instruction and homework.
Prosperity Dreams
   We may need to borrow from our Canadian and European partners in identifying which students go on to O levels and the like.  Our current system has a great many youths thinking that college is a path on which they should tread, when the harsh reality is that they cannot cut the mustard in their current developmental state.  At about the eighth grade, we should identify those students who have the drive and perspicacity to succeed in high school and beyond and give those who are bored with school and ready for something else the chance to move on meaningfully with their lives.
   One of the reasons college is so expensive is the unfettered availability of federal money to fund it.  We need to take a hard look at the use of federal taxpayer funding for education.  Our current system may give politicians a feel-good sensation about helping people, but the hard data suggest that federal dollars prop up programs that should be weeded out as antiquated or simply well meaning but not productive.  I want everyone to achieve as high a level of education as they desire and can reasonably achieve. but we are helping to lead some people astray with the talk about college for all.  We need the education that comes from steady employment.
   Prevailing Laws Preventing Progress

   Our first problem is the cry for a prevailing minimum wage that most beginning workers cannot match with their intrinsic performance.  This cuts the bottom rungs off the economic ladder.  Job experience is the key to personal progress.  Most of life is just showing up and doing what is asked of you and doing it until completion.  My ideas in the 256 program include community improvement projects in conjunction with current and former military personnel as well as local entrepreneurs.
   Paying a wage, whether "living" or not, can pave the way to expansion of skills and desires while building the satisfaction of a job well done.  I envison programs like the WPA and the CCC that would create homeless shelters, upgrade parks and urban gardens, open new shops (why are there no Starbucks in the hood?), and all with local community leaders in benificent charge.  The education many youths need comes from work experience with real jobs with desirable outcomes, not the pipe dreams of a British Royal (Lord Keynes) to make work.  Real jobs, real progress.
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