Saw on last week’s news that TV actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to a couple of weeks in prison, some community service, parole and a fine for trying to buy her daughter’s way into college. My knee-jerk reaction was: yeah, and…?

Some giddy reporter nattered that the reason the crime had been committed was that Felicity’s daughter couldn’t even be tutored into being able to pass the entry exams, so Mom paid someone to tinker with the test and get the girl in. Why? Why was it so vital for a kid without the aptitude for college to be admitted? So she could be an actress like her mom, apparently.

Now they’ve got my attention. For years, one of my pet peeves has been the ever-growing obsession with college degrees. While I certainly want the appropriate sheepskins on the walls of my doctors, lawyers and CPAs, I’d much rather see an ASE certification in my auto mechanic’s waiting room and some assurance that the maintenance crew and pilot of my flight to Phoenix have passed all of the relevant FAA classes than to know they graduated from Columbia.

Why is it so many of us are willing to pay through the nose for our kids to go through four or more years of college when what they really want to do is sell real estate, paint or own a gift shop? Sure, the rounding effects of higher education are a nice accouterment in life and if money is no object, why not? But there are myriad ways for a person to earn a perfectly respectable living by just taking some classes, accumulating the appropriate certificates and getting a job. For students and/or their families to spend ten to forty thousand dollars a year on a 4-year degree and then end up doing work they could have been qualified for at a fraction of the cost is goofy.

We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that the only path to a decent place in society is through a college education. And it’s just not true. There are trade schools and junior college courses related to almost every profession you can think of. Astrophysicist? Maybe not; but Certified Nursing Assistant? Plumber? Computer repair? Yes, lots of careers can be founded on classes which take a vastly shorter time and much less money than are required to obtain even a single college degree.

I know and am sure you do, many people with yellowed degrees hung on a wall (and maybe still being paid for) which have exactly nothing to do with the field in which they’re earning their living. We need to take the stigma away from trade schools.

An actress?! Huffman could have saved her daughter and herself untold humiliation by just, in time-honored Tinseltown tradition, helping to get the girl’s foot in the Hollywood door. But no, because they’re a ‘family of a certain stature’, a degree was required even if the kid couldn’t add 2+2. Sad.

Leslie Baker is a native Arizonian who retired from the construction and real estate industries. She volunteered for over 20 years with various Hospice organizations. She and her husband, Phillip Mojica, live in Linden.

Leslie Baker is a native Arizonian who retired from the construction and real estate industries. She volunteered for over 20 years with various Hospice organizations. She and her husband, Phillip Mojica, live in Linden.

(2) comments


This little Ignorance Manifesto reduces all human values to those which can be denominated in dollars and cents. It is the underpinning of a purely utilitarian ethos for human life, and a pathetic transactional constraint to human relationships. Even there, however, it still fails. Those holding bachelor's degrees earn about $2.27 million over their lifetime, while those with master's, doctoral, and professional degrees earn $2.67 million, $3.25 million, and $3.65 million, respectively. Those with bachelor's degrees, no matter the field, earn vastly more than counterparts with some college ($1.55 million in lifetime earnings) or a high school diploma ($1.30 million lifetime), indicating that any four-year degree is often integral to financial success later in life, and that holds true for those who never work in their degreed fields. Many corporations have been hiring people with PhD's in Humanities, Philosophy, History and English Lit because they know how to both teach and learn, and understand the basis for research.

In addition, there is a vast domain of human life-enrichment accruing to those with advanced learning, which includes lifelong habits of reading, studying, learning and growing. Moreover, there also accrues an enormous benefit to the children of educated parents by virtue of the simple fact of growing up in a household where learning and knowledge were valued and passed on. Music, poetry, language, arts, sciences, culture and human enlightenment go hand in hand with education. There is a very good reason why the plutocracy seeks to suppress educational attainment for the masses. Ignorance is the plowshare of subjugation, and there is much profit it providing the masses with just enough information to be productive worker bees. My dad had a sixth grade education. He was born poor and died poor but his two sons earned four degrees between them and prospered, while never working a day in their bachelor degree major subject areas.

Third, the fundamental assumptions for the optimal functioning of our democratic republic are that citizens are both informed and concerned. If the former is absent, the latter makes little difference and can, as we now see, be dangerous. We see the calamitous outcomes of that selfsame under-education increasingly in our daily lives. We have millions who languish in poverty because the are too poorly educated to compete. Around the globe, women and girls are deliberately denied education, and are subjugated thereby to lives of ignorance, servitude and coerced childbearing. We have also the spectre of massive self-harm because ignorance results in over-population denial, climate denial, fear of vaccinations, and hatreds based on race, ethnicity, religion, origin, class, sexual orientation and other irrational behaviors.

While it is true that a few persons are not able to absorb a college education, everyone wins when each person is educated to the highest degree they can(and wish to)be without regard to economic outcomes. A truck driver with a degree in the Humanities has greater value to society than her driving skills. She is an informed citizen with a knowledge-enriched life.


Execllent post Ron. [thumbup][thumbup]

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