Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mainstream Media Finally Acknowledging College Bubble

This hour long video about the costs of college was sent to us by our resident Libertarian and "outside the box" thinker, David Montané.


David Montané said...

Thanks for posting this, Cere!

The title of the posting comes from an e-mail sent from the producer several days after the video was first introduced early last week. The e-mail listed several mainstream media reports that echoed the findings in the video. Here are the highlights of that e-mail:

"On Thursday's cover of the New York Times, Catherine Rampell wrote an article entitled 'Many With New College Degree Find the Job Market Humbling'. According to the New York Times article, only 56% of college graduates in 2010 were able to get a job by this spring, compared to 90% of the graduates in years 2006 and 2007. Only half of those finding a job, found a job where their degree was required. The median starting salary for college graduates last year was $27,000, down 10% from the $30,000 starting income in years 2006 to 2008.

"Bloomberg aired a live television segment on Thursday, 'Is a 4-Year College Degree Worth the Cost?' and cited a poll that shows 57% of U.S. adults say college is not worth the price with 75% of U.S. adults saying college is unaffordable.

"NBC News anchor Brian Williams came out with a report Thursday night about the college bubble in a segment entitled, 'Education Nation'. Williams reported many of the basic facts from 'College Conspiracy' including that student loans are one of the few types of debts you can't get rid of in bankruptcy and that total student loan debt is now above $800 billion and exceeds credit card debt.

"The Washington Post published an article this week entitled, 'The Real Debt Crisis', which reported that 85% of college graduates this year will be moving back home to live with their parents. The Post discussed the stunning growth in for-profit colleges from year 2000 to 2008, which saw a 225% increase in enrollments from 670,000 to 1.6 million. The five largest for-profit colleges are receiving 77% of their revenues from government loans and grants."

Cerebration said...

Thanks David. Some people are actually concerned that the default rate on these government-backed student loans at "for-profit" colleges will be the next bubble to burst - and it will be a big one for the feds to have to pay.

Anonymous said...

Student loans are very difficlut to get out of. They are a strangle-hold over you. You must be disabled and unable to pay. They will sit over you for the next 2-3 decades.

Anonymous said...

A lot of colleges these days like to take in students who have no idea what they want to study. The college my daughter attended told parents this during parent orientation meetings. They even had course offerings to help students explore various subject areas. Some of these students end up with college degrees that they are never going to be able to use to get a good job.

IMHO college is worth the money, if you go with a plan. I like the joint enrollment option that many students use to get a start on their college career while still in high school. It shortens the time it takes to get a college degree and lessens the cost. Can a high school student use joint enrollment to attend a technical school?

A million years ago, when I was in high school, some of my classmates graduated with classes in typing, shorthand, and business english. The guys were getting classes in technical drawing, carpentry, and auto repair. They were able to go to work for local businesses and earned good starting salaries. The course offerings might be different today because the job market is different. How many kids drop out or disrupt class because high school has nothing to offer?

David Montané said...

The beginning and advanced typing classes I took in high school have been invaluable to me in every job I've had since. Drafting class also came in handy.

Anonymous said...

A number of us have been urging (crying out for) real career tech classes in DCSS for years (maybe even a decade) -- for some reason it is seen as "racist" -- a track for some and not for others. This is crazy. Instead, we have "college or bust" and we're losing kids like flies as they drop out left, right and center and aren't the least bit ready for college if they get there. It's non-sensical. Also, Cere's hometown in Ohio has an incredible Tech school that actually -- yes, get this -- leads to college -- in things like agribusiness.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:42 It's not just the tech school from Cere's town. Where I grew up in Pa, the same happens. I know a few kids that went through the landscape/horticulture program and then on to college to learn more and others who took auto mechanics, welding, and plumbing to go to community college to learn more about running a business.

Right now many of our kids don't see another way. It's college or bust and many are going bust.

David Montané said...

Check out this news:

Gayle said...

Massachusetts has probably the most extensive tech/voc training in the U.S. Their Tech high schools are sometimes stand alone and sometimes within a high school. A rural high school may have 1,200 students and 400 are in the tech part of the high school.

In Massachusetts, you can graduate from a tech high school (stand alone or housed within a regular high school) and have an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) license or a plumber or an electrician, etc. Is it any wonder that their unemployment rate is so low and so many companies that need skilled labor (and I'm not just talking computers - that's just one aspect of skilled labor) locate in Massachusetts.

I don't know about Georgia, but DCSS spends a lot of money on their career tech program with very little to show for it. The students learn Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, etc. and that's about the extent of it. No car mechanics, plumbing, electrician, or nursing training.

Look what DCSS spends for the vocational education for salary and benefits for very little Return on Investment programs:
1. Around 200 employees
2. $15,000,000+ in annual salary and benefits
(Close to $80,000 a year per vocational ed teacher).

This is a program that really needs to be revamped.

Why are these programs not evaluated EVERY year for Return on Investment. Vocational ed should be one of the easiest ones to evaluate.

pscexb said...

atl, you did qualify your post by saying you don't know about Georgia, but believe that DCSS spends a lot of money on their career tech program with very little to show for it. Let me suggest you go to the career technology home page on the school system website. I think you will be surprised to find out the extent of the offerings. Next let me suggest you visit one of the two 'heavy tech' schools, Cross Keys and DeKalb High School of Technology South. I believe it you did, you would come away with a different opinion.

The problem is the community primarily focuses and encourages students to look at college after high school. The school system has a small advertising budget to create awareness of this program so those that take advantage of it probably found out by word of mouth.

I should point out, I am the 'son of a shop teacher'. My father was proud that many of the top cabinet makers in my home town went through his class. Unfortunately due to liability issues, the heavy tech programs are not in each high school but the two schools mentioned above

Dekalbparent said...

More arguments for vocational/tech education:

Found this from WIRED magazine about where job growth is going to be in the next 20 years (exerpt):

Now, as the economy slowly rebounds, it is doing more than just gaining jobs. By looking closely at data from both government and academic sources, we can see the gradual emergence of a whole new category of middle-class jobs: a realm of work that (given time and luck) could begin to close the chasm in American employment. These new middle-class jobs are what you might call smart jobs. They’re innovative and high tech, but most of them are located far from Silicon Valley or New York. They’re specialized, but that doesn’t mean you need a PhD or even (in some cases) a college degree to get them or to do them well—though they do require some serious training, whether on the job or in a vocational program.

Smart jobs tend to scramble the line between blue-collar and white-collar. Their titles tend toward the white (technician, specialist, analyst), but the underlying industries often tend toward the blue, toward the making of physical stuff. Smart jobs can involve factories and machines, plastics and chemicals, but operating those instruments and manipulating those materials demands far more brains than brawn. Even though some of these jobs are nominally in old-fashioned industries, visit the factories and shops and fields and you’ll find that these industries are in the process of being utterly transformed.

And this was in a story about Bayer's plant research on Morning Edition on NPR today (exerpt):

That's why you might consider a job in the exciting, high-tech world of cotton: Bayer and Monsanto can only make money if they invent new things every year. And the only way to invent new things every year is to have lots of people conducting research and development.

It's not just plant specialists with PhDs. Al Balducchi does have a master's in plant breeding, but he tells me they have plenty of jobs that don't require a master's.

At this one site, Bayer CropScience employs more than 50 people — some with PhDs, some with only high-school diplomas. That's typical of an innovation-focused company.

(After a BA and a Master's, I find myself taking tech courses for a new career...)

Cerebration said...

psc - I know you hope it to be so, but Cross Keys is definitely not "heavy tech". Yes, they do have an automotive program that just received some pretty high tech equipment, but the space is pretty small and there's only one teacher. Same with the construction trade. Same with the CNA program and the cosmetology program. These are programs offered within the traditional school setting - they are merely small samples of what is actually available in true vo-tech schools across the country. I wish "someone" in DCSS would take some field trips outside of the south and check out what's going on. Big stuff everywhere... what you call "heavy tech" - high tech too.

No, here in the south, I've concluded that we are still an aristocracy - either highly (college) educated, or indentured servants. That may be an exaggeration - but not that much of one when compared to places that value a middle class.

No, instead, here in Georgia, we have created a pipeline to prison. The USA holds the most people per capita in prison -- and Georgia holds the most per capita of any of the states.

We're just not doing something right.

David Montané said...

Sad but true, Cerebration.... and the prisoners are slaves by another name. They work for their wardens and for corporations ranging from Motorola to Victoria's Secret, most of them for free, some for $1 or $2 per hour. This is per my contacts at the Southern Center for Human Rights. See

Cerebration said...

For an interesting perspective on how much we as a society value prison over education, read this letter by Nathan Bootz, Superintendent of schools in Ithaca, Michigan.

Dear Governor Snyder,

In these tough economic times, schools are hurting. And yes, everyone in Michigan is hurting right now financially, but why aren’t we protecting schools? Schools are the one place on Earth that people look to to “fix” what is wrong with society by educating our youth and preparing them to take on the issues that society has created.

One solution I believe we must do is take a look at our corrections system in Michigan. We rank nationally at the top in the number of people we incarcerate. We also spend the most money per prisoner annually than any other state in the union. Now, I like to be at the top of lists, but this is one ranking that I don’t believe Michigan wants to be on top of.

Consider the life of a Michigan prisoner. They get three square meals a day. Access to free health care. Internet. Cable television. Access to a library. A weight room. Computer lab. They can earn a degree. A roof over their heads. Clothing. Everything we just listed we DO NOT provide to our school children.

This is why I’m proposing to make my school a prison. The State of Michigan spends annually somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 per prisoner, yet we are struggling to provide schools with $7,000 per student. I guess we need to treat our students like they are prisoners, with equal funding. Please give my students three meals a day. Please give my children access to free health care. Please provide my school district Internet access and computers. Please put books in my library. Please give my students a weight room so we can be big and strong. We provide all of these things to prisoners because they have constitutional rights. What about the rights of youth, our future?!

Please provide for my students in my school district the same way we provide for a prisoner. It’s the least we can do to prepare our students for the giving our schools the resources necessary to keep our students OUT of prison.

Respectfully submitted,

Nathan Bootz
Ithaca Public Schools

pscexb said...

Cere, I can acknowledge I have not seen the program at Cross Keys since it relocted from the North campus a couple of years ago. I understood that the heavy tech program was offered there. Without question, it is offered at the South campus. Not only do they have an automotive and building construction department, they also have a print shop and other programs.

There will be a large need for those in the health services field in the future. Most of our high schools offer an allied health program. Many also offer a culinary arts program. I believe Lakeside won a competition in this earlier in the school year. Many students graduated this year with a work place certification, making them job ready after graduating from high school.

Yes everyone, there is a robust career tech program in DCSS, one that is acknowledged as one of the best in the state when you consider the partnership with DeKalb Tech. Unfortunately not enough people know about it.

Cerebration said...

It's a different approach is all. These are 'career tech' classes offered alongside a traditional education. Yes, that is a good thing. However, I think most of us who are familiar with high quality vocational/tech schools are talking about something completely different.

Why don't you get Sarah Copelin-Wood and go tour Cross Keys? She made some kind of comment that she was worried tthat Cross Keys had "more" than the tech school in the "south". She needs to stop this north/south political grandstanding. She also needs to go and see for herself before insinuating there is a descrepancy. Several of our board members continue to push a divide between the north and the south. This is strictly for political reasons so that they can keep their job as a board member.

As we recently saw with the lacrosse issue - the board told Dunwoody that NO they could not field a team unless they offered it to the whole system. Then they found out that Arabia was already approved to field a lacrosse team (although they haven't had enough interest yet.)

Dekalbparent said...

@pscexb -

Please tell us which high schools offer an allied health program (you said "most") and which offer culinary arts (you said "many").

On the Work-Ready designation,
I agree that it is a good tool and I am glad it is offered to students. It probably opens doors for many after high school. I do know, though, that the test was administered to every student in the senior class, resulting in many being designated Work-Ready who were going on to post-secondary education rather than immediately entering the work world. It makes me skeptical about DeKalb's boasting about its career-tech programs' production of skilled students.

pscexb said...

@DeKalbparent, I may have 'overstated' somewhat but want to answer your question. I sent Cerebration a copy of the chart I used to share this information. In my defense, the chart is from September 2009 so it is possible some of this numbers have increased.

What I referred to as Allied Health is officially called Healthcare Science. It consists of 7 pathways, Therapeutic Servies, Health Infomatics, Therapeutic Services-Emergency Services, Therapeutic Services-Medical Services, Diagonostic Services, Biotechnology, and Dental. Therapeutic Services is offered at Cross Keys, Columbia, Towers, Cedar Grove, SW DeKalb, Arabia Mountain, Miller Grove, Stephenson and DeKalb School of Technology South. Cross Keys also offers a Dental program. I said 'most' high schools however you can see this program was in 9 of the 20 primary high schools schools in 2009. I was surprised Druid Hills was not on this list given what I heard of a possible cooperative relationship between that school and Emory. I heard the same of Miller Grove and DeKalb Medical-Fairington.

Culinary Arts is offered at Lakeside, Clarkston, Columbia, Towers, McNair, SW Dekalb, Arabia Mountain, Miller Grove and Redan.

Interesting the pathway offered that will be offered at every school beginning next school year will be JROTC. Engineering, Small business, and Interactive Media are offered.

It should be noted that most middle schools offer some pathway.

Cerebration said...

Last I knew, there were no working ovens at Lakeside. Maybe after the construction?

Dekalbparent said...

The Allied Health program was suppposed to be offered at Druid Hills and Miller Grove in co-operation with the hospitals psc mentioned. A classroom was even created in the Druid Hills renovation for the program, and it wasn't cheap.

Unfortunately, the programs disappeared from the radar in 2009 wit a vague promise from Dr. Lewis that the "hopefully would be developed in the future".

There is no program at DHHS, and the room is being used for regular classes (last year it was Language Arts). Ironically, it has wonderful lighting and was very briefly (a month or 6 weeks)used for an advanced studio Art class last year, but the Art department has been banished to the basement again, and the light is no longer theirs...

DHHS has none of the classes pscexb mentions.

Gayle said...

@ pscexb
" did qualify your post by saying you don't know about Georgia, but believe that DCSS spends a lot of money on their career tech program with very little to show for it."

Where are the statistics for the number of students who go through the DCSS tech program and the number of students who are employed after high school in their field as a result of the training that they received from the program?

That's the kind of statistics DCSS needs to cost justify a $15,000,000 expenditure, especially since the salary and benefits are so much in excess of the content area teachers who teach students how to read, write, compute, participate in a democracy, and have an understanding of science.

Is this information of post secondary employment based on DCSS Career Tech training skills listed on the DCSS website? Does DCSS actually track these students to see the efficacy of these programs - i.e. the students are employed in a trade or technical job post secondary? Or is this just another program that means well but there is no data to cost justify it?

If the emphasis is on college, and a small percentage of the career tech students do not get jobs after completing the career tech program, then Career Tech needs to be re-evaluated, revamped, and method set in place to measure its ROI for taxpayers.

I'm not against Vocational Ed at all. I'm always posting how wonderful the educational system in the state of Massachusetts is because they have such an extensive and successful vocational program. Notice the operative word is vocational - not technology - since LPN nursing, auto mechanics, plumbing, etc. are highly skilled service jobs that the U.S. has a scarcity of and pay quite well. Technology skills should be one component among many offerings of a vocational program.

Why is it called career tech when there are so many other vocations such as auto mechanics, plumbing, electrician, nursing, cosmetology (yes - I know there is one school in DCSS that does cosmetology training)?

ben dover said...

Psc... thanks for the laugh regarding Lakeside having a culinary arts class. Yes, they do have such a class but it has been held in the same kitchen since the 60's. Any updates to it would have been considered a renovation and that wasn't allowed under the old regime. Thank goodness there will finally be a true culinary arts class w/ a modern kitchen w/in the next year or so.

Anonymous said...

I think some of you need to do some research as to what is available via technical classes taught at Cross Keys. Did you know there is a Health Science Technology program that is a gateway to a CNA certficate? Cosmetology classes that allow students to accrue hours toward their state license.

The automative shops should soon be 100% operative now that the BOE approved the funds to adjust the ceiling height for the car lifts.

The offerings at CKHS are available to many of the schools in the north and central part of the county. Several students within the school system received state awards for their work with the dental program.

I find it troubling that some of you who complains the loudest actually do not seem to know what is going in the schools.

Cerebration said...

I'm certainly not trying to take anything away from Cross Keys. I have been there a few times - actually attended the Open House after the reno. It's just that compared to true vo-tech high schools elsewhere in the country, Cross Keys is very, very small and operates as a school within a school. Not nearly enough has been poured into these kinds of programs. I've concluded it's really just due to southern culture. The midwest and New England are much more focused on building and maintaining a strong middle class.

Gayle said...


I would just like to know if statistics regarding the Career Ed program are available in DCSS? Is that such a strange idea?

I think we should give vocational diplomas, and I would like to see some of the money we put into programs trying to make sure every child goes to college diverted into vocational ed. My plumber makes $85 an hour and is a small businessman.

Just because taxpayers ask for data that shows the efficacy of multi-million dollar programs. This is not to single out the Career Ed program. EVERY program needs to be evaluated as a cost center that gives us an adequate ROI.

pscexb said...

@atl, I agree, it would be helpul if participation statistics regarding the career tech program was easily accessible. That recommendation has been made though it has not been posted yet on the website. In the interim, I would suggest giving Dr. Delmas Watkins, the program director a call. Trust me, he would welcome someone in the community taking interest in the program. He is also open to suggestions for improving communication to the general community.

Some of the frustrations you expressed about diploma choices should be directed to the state. A few on this site can speak more to that but GA reduced the number of diploma choices several years ago. This frustrated citizens around the state. One can get a career tech seal on their general diploma. As mentioned earlier, they can also get workplace certification, making the study job ready after graduation.

You also asked why the term 'career tech' is now used. I guess you can call that a sign of the times. You might want to look at the federal legislation, Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. For the state, our own Sen. Fran Millar introduced the BRIDGE Act. Both pieces of legislation focus on increased attention on the achievement of career tech students.

I grew up during a time when it was emphasized to always know how to do something with your hands because you could always find a job (assuming you also had a strong work ethic also). It's no secret that some educators were accused of 'tracking' minorities and/or troubled students into vocational classes. That along with increased liabilities with heavy tech equipment led to a slow down and eventual revamping of this program.

Dekalbparent said...


I was not trying to complain - rather I was pointing out that there is some discrepancy between the amount of career tech / vocational prep offerings DCSS advertises and what is actually available.

It is good to know that CKHS has offerings available with more coming, but I agree with Cere and Atl that other states have us beat big time. While some of the high schools have some of the programs, it seems the only two places to get mmuch of a choice are CKHS and DeKalb HS of Technology South. Are the programs at CKHS and DHSTS enough for everyone who might want them? Are there programs that offer a pathway to higher-level education in the field (like the program in aeronautic technology in New York City)? What about the hi-tech fields (systems networking, web design, computer graphics)? Is the technology in the schools up to date? Will the student be ready to step into a real-world technical career when she/he graduates?

Anonymous said...

Ben Dover, here is a link to an article in the Champion Newspaper which indicates that Lakeside, indeed, does have a Culinary Arts program:

Anonymous said...

Also, an article from the Reporter newspapers highlighting the Cosmetology program at CKHS.