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Tue Feb 19, 2013, 05:55 AM

 

The STEM shortage myth

Maybe it's time we turned the shortage of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) political bloviations over to Mythbusters. We haven't heard this many anguished cries of alarm since Eisenhower and Sputnik. At least the 1958 National Defense Education Act resulted in a massive improvement in science textbooks and instruction -- an approach with more promise than our current practice of importing indentured foreign workers.

The first step in busting the myth is to take a look at the federal government's Bureau of Labor Statistics projections of the fastest growing jobs. Only two or three of the top 30 could be considered as requiring extensive STEM training. Even for the few STEM jobs projected to have dramatic percentage increases, these are big increases to a small number. For instance, the 62 percent increase in biomedical engineers represents less than 10,000 new jobs nationally -- compared to the need for more than 70 times that number of new home health aides.

Of the nation's nine million people with STEM degrees, only about three million work in STEM fields. Despite the lamentations of employers about not being able to hire qualified people (which is true in some locations), the real problem is that there are too few jobs for the qualified people available. Further, when businesses can off-shore jobs or hire foreign nationals at a fraction of the cost, there is no incentive to hire our home-grown kids.

In Vermont, the pattern is the same -- except for registered nurses, none of our fastest growing jobs require STEM training. To be sure, a number of STEM jobs in the state have high percentage increases. Yet, again, these are big percentage increases to small numbers. For the decade 2008 to 2018, software engineers are projected to increase by only 361 new positions. But, in a Call to Action for Vermont STEM Connector says, in bold, red headlines, that the state needs 19,000 such workers. That sounds rather alarming! At least until you dig a little deeper. Georgetown University's prestigious Center on Education and the Workforce (which generated the numbers) calculates that's only 4.7 percent of our workforce. A demand that is easily met provided we have jobs to attract our young adults to come home. Does Vermont have a problem with math and science achievement? Setting aside exaggerations based on inflated "standards," when Vermont scores are compared to nations we rank sixth in math and seventh in science in the world.

The STEM urban myth rests on a greater unexamined myth of "economic competitiveness in a global market." The problem is that universal, high level primary and secondary STEM education at the primary and secondary levels doesn’t make it into the World Economic Forum's twelve pillars of economic competitiveness. Adopting “world class education standards” and standardized tests don’t make the list either. Let's get real: the inability of the federal government to resolve its own fiscal problems, our national credit rating and the housing bubble have far more to do with our economic competitiveness than high school math requirements.


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Arrow 57 replies Author Time Post
Reply The STEM shortage myth (Original post)
HiPointDem Feb 2013 OP
cap Feb 2013 #1
Jeff In Milwaukee Feb 2013 #3
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #6
Chathamization Feb 2013 #2
hay rick Feb 2013 #56
riderinthestorm Feb 2013 #4
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #7
TransitJohn Feb 2013 #22
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #5
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #8
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #12
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #14
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #15
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #16
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #17
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #19
Yavin4 Feb 2013 #10
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #13
Yavin4 Feb 2013 #18
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #20
Yavin4 Feb 2013 #23
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #25
Yavin4 Feb 2013 #26
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #28
Yavin4 Feb 2013 #31
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #35
uponit7771 Feb 2013 #29
jeff47 Feb 2013 #24
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #27
jeff47 Feb 2013 #30
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #33
jeff47 Feb 2013 #45
Yavin4 Feb 2013 #32
Egalitarian Thug Feb 2013 #9
Manifestor_of_Light Feb 2013 #11
quaker bill Feb 2013 #21
Manifestor_of_Light Feb 2013 #40
quaker bill Feb 2013 #53
Egalitarian Thug Feb 2013 #54
reformist2 Feb 2013 #34
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #36
BainsBane Feb 2013 #37
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #38
BainsBane Feb 2013 #39
MadHound Feb 2013 #42
BainsBane Feb 2013 #52
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #44
BainsBane Feb 2013 #50
BainsBane Feb 2013 #41
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #43
BainsBane Feb 2013 #51
MadHound Feb 2013 #46
BainsBane Feb 2013 #49
tarheelsunc Feb 2013 #47
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #48
Recursion Feb 2013 #55
BainsBane Feb 2013 #57

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 08:22 AM

1. Also, if we really do have a shortage, why are h1b visas not coming from these countries?

Top 10 countries for stem:

1) Finland
2) Switzerland
3) Sweden
4) Australia
5) Luxembourg
6) Norway
7) Canada
8) Netherlands
9) Japan
10) Denmark
11) United States
12) Germany
13) New Zealand
14) United Kingdom
15) South Korea
16) France
17) Ireland
18) France
19) Belgium
20) Singapore
21) Spain
22) Israel
23) Italy
24) Slovenia
25) Czech Republic

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Response to cap (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 09:44 AM

3. Ooo! Ooo! Let me answer!

What is, "Because the top ten countries don't pay shit wages and give their employees decent benefits?"

I'll take "Reasons Why Our Economy Is Struggling" for $500, Alex.

Reading the source material (from Vermont, but what the hell, let's extrapolate) the fastest growing jobs are all crappy service jobs. Now there's a chicken-or-the-egg proposition here. Good paying jobs often require science and technology, and in order to create those jobs, we need to re-shore (as opposed to off-shore) high tech manufacuturing. So do we create the workforce and wait for the jobs or the other way around?

But I agree we can start by "draining the swamp" of H1B visas. Instead of increasing the quota, I'd like to see us start decreasing about about 10% per year. There's always going to be a need for some one-of-a-kind, very hard to find skill sets that require bringing in talent from overseas -- but that should be the exception, not business as usual.

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Response to cap (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 10:04 AM

6. How did you determine that they are the Top Ten for STEM?

You then list 25...

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 09:29 AM

2. Exactly.

It's an easy way to dismiss our real problems, and place the blame on the workers - "it's not our fault you don't have a job, you should have worked harder." But when you talk to people in the STEM field, you quickly realize that such a background is no ticket to easy riches.

I disagree that the problem is the governments fiscal situation and credit ratings. We can borrow money very cheaply right now, and we aren't going to run into fiscal problems for a few more years (caused mainly by our healthcare problems - and solved by single-payer). The problem now is lack of demand, and in the sequestration debate we finally see people willing to admit that government spending increases demand. Well, at least they admit that less government spending means less demand - it seems hard for them to then make the jump to more government spending meaning more demand.

We also have to realize that we need government investment to open up future opportunities. If it wasn't for the US government's tech investment, the US wouldn't be the tech hub it is today.

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Response to Chathamization (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 10:58 AM

56. Good critique.

I thought the OP on the mostly bogus and much exaggerated STEM shortage was good, but offering federal fiscal issues and credit ratings as an alternative cause of employment problems is swapping one myth for another.

Fiscal problems could be resolved in one fell swoop by switching to a single-payer plan but it looks like that obvious solution will not even be discussed in the corridors of power during the current administration.

As you point out, the biggest challenge facing the economy is inadequate demand. The lack of demand and the lack of a credible plan to restore demand are the real reasons companies are sitting on huge piles of cash.

"...in the sequestration debate we finally see people willing to admit that government spending increases demand. Well, at least they admit that less government spending means less demand - it seems hard for them to then make the jump to more government spending meaning more demand."


There is some dark humor to be found in watching the people who castigated Obama for "failed stimulus" and "job-killing stimulus" crying like stuck pigs at the thought of all the jobs that will be lost due to the sequester's cuts to military spending...

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 09:57 AM

4. Its great to have real numbers that back the anecdotes I read on DU and elsewhere. Of IT guys

that have been laid off and can't get re-hired since H1Bs are taking their old jobs (or they are outsourced). Or newly graduated engineers who struggle to even get hired in the first place....

It would also be nice if we could lay off the meme that choosing a liberal arts education is bad or that it makes one any more unattractive as a job candidate than a STEM major.

K&R

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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 10:09 AM

7. Its still just anecdotes coupled with some spin from both sides

IT barely qualifies for STEM in the eyes of many and is the weakest of the STEM fields at best.

No matter how you gut it, employers pay more for STEMs and less for liberal arts in most cases. Starting attorneys often make less that starting Comp Sci majors.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 10:02 AM

5. None of my students ever had a problem finding a technical position

That is just one data point, as is that presented by Mathis. I teach in SoCal, where we have a large demand for STEM graduates. Mathis takes his view from a state relatively little high tech and then applies it globally.

That is not to say that universities should become trade schools. They still have the responsibility to produce well rounded students with a quality education. When students complain to me about having to take liberal arts etc, I point out that there are STEM majors, not exclusives...

As for the economics, STEM clearly pays better than Liberal Arts. That is clear, unambiguous, and well examined

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:08 PM

8. no, PP, it's not just one data point. being a professor, you ought to know that.

 

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #8)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 08:48 PM

12. His oped is indeed one data point as is my experience

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #12)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 08:56 PM

14. the article talks about a number of data points; avtual research, as opposed to anecdotal

 

experiences of 'progressive professors'.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 09:03 PM

15. I question the relevance of his sources and his projection of them nation wide

Different areas have different needs. STEM students in the SoCal area do well, in and out of the defense industry. Been that way for quite some time. The cited article admits this.

The article spoke of "extensive STEM training" That reads to me to be MS level or better. The article also compares the difference in growth between Bio-medical engineers vs home health care aides, but ignores the differences required in terms of training requirements and the salaries received.



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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #15)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 09:06 PM

16. & i question your anecdote & your nick.

 

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #16)


Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #17)


Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:50 PM

10. Basic Information Tech Should Be Taught In Vocational School

Programming, Web Development, Networking, etc. all should be taught in a vocational school. I would extend high school by two years for vocational and college prep. training.

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Response to Yavin4 (Reply #10)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 08:50 PM

13. You can make the case that IT is not college degree material

Programming is not IT and quality programming requires college level work. Knuth Vol 1-IV is not high school level material

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #13)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 09:18 PM

18. Basic Networking (e.g. HelpDesk), UI and Web Design, Basic Object Oriented Programming

should be taught in a vocational school. Computer Science (Algorithms, etc.) would be taught on a college level. Those that want to learn basics would go to a vocational school. Those that want to study the more advanced topics would go through a post-high school College prep course, and then onto college.

My plan gives students the option to develop job skills right away or prepare themselves for the rigor of higher ed. It also save families money because it would shorten their college study, and finally, it would allow higher ed to concentrate on teaching higher level classes.

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Response to Yavin4 (Reply #18)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 09:27 PM

20. The real issues would be the level of instruction.

You can teach syntax and such, but without the theory, it would be very "plug and chug". Hard to teach recursion or sorting without the theory and the math behind it.

The biggest risk would be another generation of VB "programmers". We are still recovering from that in many parts of the industry.

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #20)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 09:38 PM

23. Do You Think That The H1B Visas know Algorithms

Know recursion and sorting? Read Knuth?

Also, I know highly successful web developers who don't know anything about Algorithms.

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Response to Yavin4 (Reply #23)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 09:47 PM

25. Those that I have worked with or interviewed generally did

Then again, they were generally at the Masters level.

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #25)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 09:52 PM

26. I'm not talking about Academia.

I'm talking about corporate level H1Bs. I've been to India. I've interviewed people there, and trust me, they don't know Algorithms.

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Response to Yavin4 (Reply #26)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 10:12 PM

28. I am talking about industry as well

Its pretty clear in the first few minutes of an interview if the person has had the academics or not. We generally did not interview a foreign trained candidate unless they had a Masters. Over time HR also got pretty smart about what the schools in India and filtered for us.

I have no problem believing that the bulk of the candidates for visas were trade school types.


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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #28)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 10:54 PM

31. Not Every Job In IT Requires A CompSci Degree

Some folks have built entire careers around HelpDesk, Network admins, Trainining, DBAs, UI designers, Web Developers, Mobile Development, etc.

There are a wide array of careers in Tech, and offering publicly funded vocational training would prepare people for these jobs. Also, it would completely remove the rationale for H1B Visas.

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Response to Yavin4 (Reply #31)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 11:10 PM

35. Few IT jobs require any degree

Are most of the H1Bs in IT or in development?

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Response to Yavin4 (Reply #23)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 10:33 PM

29. No, not at all 20yr in IT....most don't.

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #13)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 09:40 PM

24. Actually, quality programming doesn't require college level work

It requires well beyond college level work. It takes about 5 years of being a professional programmer to get to the point where one is doing "quality programming".

Doesn't particularly matter if those 5 years started with a university degree or if they started with a 2-year degree. That 2-year degree is far more focused and aims only for practical information. A university degree means the new programmer will better understand "why" and know more theory, but they'll still only be able to write small pieces of functionality with lots of supervision.

A tradeskill-like program with vocational school, apprenticeships and so on would be excellent for people who will spend their careers as "programmers". They won't invent the next programming language, but one doesn't have to invent new pipe to be an excellent plumber.

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Response to jeff47 (Reply #24)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 10:03 PM

27. That would depend on field

for basic sequential applications, you could get by without much of the theory, modeling or data management not so much. 5 years of experience will not help you if you do not know what B-trees or normal form are, but would be good if you are coding cell phone apps or games.

Computer Scientist are not always the best programmers since they can get distracted by the theory. However, there are essential elements in programming that cannot be understood or managed without an adequate academic prep.

A while back I taught some Personal Software Process classes for industry. The homework was a series of programming exercises. A Comp Sci/Comp Engr would whip through them, the VBers had a much harder time.

The problem with the tradesman analogy is that plumber has to know nothing about theory to do their entire job, just the code. Not true with programming.


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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #27)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 10:36 PM

30. It's always amusing when academics insist on telling us what we need.

It's not like those of us who are actual professional "programmers" might have some idea of what we need.

The enormous failing of academia is the scale of what you teach. It's tiny. A "large" project in a course lasts around a month - you can't take the whole semester, because you're teaching them what they need to know to do the big project at the end. Even a bachelors or masters thesis is tiny compared to a 'real' project. They're about the scale of the smallest cell phone apps you deride.

Well, you can fuck up all over the place and still pass a class where the projects are so small. And lots and lots of new programmers do. They then have to be taught how to do it right out in the real world where their failures scale up into disaster.

B-trees or normal form

If your developers aren't using libraries or third party systems for such topics, they have no business being professional programmers. Real-world programmers aren't getting paid to implement basic constructs. Especially when their custom implementation is likely to have bugs. Existing libraries get the job done better, faster and more reliably than any individual can implement on their own. It's dumb not to use them.

Long story short: Don't write your own database. Buy Oracle for 1/3rd the cost, or use MySQL or Postgres for free. They'll work better and they're already done.

It is similar to structural engineers versus materials scientists: Materials scientists understand a ton of theory, chemistry and physics and invent new materials and processes. Structural engineers take what the materials scientists invent and engineer actual buildings. Those engineers don't need to understand exactly what molecular processes improve shear strength in order to figure out how to bolt two beams together. And there's something like 20 times the number of structural engineers to materials scientists, because we need a small number of people inventing new technology that is applied by a much, much larger number of practitioners.

Universities are only producing the equivalent of materials scientists. And they keep insisting we need the equivalent of materials scientists. What we need are the equivalent of structural engineers with a small smattering of scientists to solve the truly hard problems.

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Response to jeff47 (Reply #30)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 11:08 PM

33. Being a prof is my retirement gig, I have considerable experience outside of the university.

You are right about the largest challenge of teaching any field. The largest duration is a semester in any class. However that is true whether it is MIT or ITT.

I am not advocating writing custom databases, but without understanding the theory its almost impossible to choose the right features and use them efficiently. Seen that repeatedly. My point is that advanced programming cannot effectively be done without some theory and they just don't teach that at trade schools or JCs. Few CS/CE types invent new stuff, but they are often in the best position to develop things based on the newer technologies. Modelling and Sim is a good case in point. Your typical trade school grad is not going do to well in cluster computing. A recent CS/CE grad should have some experience with them.

My biggest fear is another generation of VBers. Those who call themselves professional programmers but cannot do anything that Micro$oft does not support. Its even worse with writing code for Apple.

In the end, perhaps it is the area one wants to work in. Business apps vice scientific computing kind of thing. The last part of my career was spent in computer security and forensics. The academics were critical there.

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #33)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 12:11 AM

45. The point is you AREN'T choosing the features.

I am not advocating writing custom databases, but without understanding the theory its almost impossible to choose the right features and use them efficiently.

You aren't.

It's the database's job to do that. And they can do so in all but a few edge cases. And even in those cases, my choice is spend $80k on a mid-range developer (salary + benefits + workstation + other support), $100k on a senior developer, or spend $40k on really big hardware to just muscle through it, or $10-20k for a couple months of an expert's time.

My point is that advanced programming cannot effectively be done without some theory and they just don't teach that at trade schools or JC

And my point is that just isn't true anymore.

In the very beginning of my career, it was actually important to know the nuances of Quicksort versus bubble sort. Barely.

Today, you're trading a millisecond per day of performance against kilobytes of memory when you have 2 gigabytes of free memory. The fine details between those two just don't matter. Call vector.sort() and get on to the unique parts of the project.

Modelling and Sim is a good case in point. Your typical trade school grad is not going do to well in cluster computing.

Good news! Hardcore cluster computing isn't necessary for 99.9% of projects. If you find yourself in a situation where a cluster would actually work (already a small portion of projects), then use a product like MULE to tie the servers together, and it even includes a load balancer.

Again, one part-time consultant or one on-staff expert can solve this if necessary. You don't need the vast majority of programmers to be trained to do this.

My biggest fear is another generation of VBers. Those who call themselves professional programmers but cannot do anything that Micro$oft does not support. Its even worse with writing code for Apple.

I'd like to introduce you to C#. The new, Microsoft-only way to make poorly-designed front-ends for databases. Behold the horror, and despair!!!!!!

In the end, perhaps it is the area one wants to work in. Business apps vice scientific computing kind of thing. The last part of my career was spent in computer security and forensics. The academics were critical there.

Virtually all business software these days is more-or-less a database front-end. Virtually all consumer software is more-or-less a video game. Because of that, the vast majority of programmers just don't need scientist-level training.

There still are a small number of areas where actual scientists are needed. But that can be served with a small number of scientists. What the vast majority need is training in software architecture and high-level design patterns. Low-level theory is not something they will ever directly use in their job. They might be able to derive those patterns from theory, with enough experience, but it would be better to train them in that from the beginning.

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Response to jeff47 (Reply #24)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 11:07 PM

32. Thank you for the Support.

Get folks trained. Get them apprenticeships. Get them jobs. Send the H1B Visas home.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:28 PM

9. Another big part of this problem is our blindness to common business practice in America.

 

The arguments on the side of the mythology are invariably focused on education and job placement upon graduation. This is an issue to be sure, but when you examine the all-to-common fate of those graduates 15 or 20 years down the road you find that career security is another, and much more costly, myth.

Pick your STEM field. In the U.S., if you're not in the defense industry, your prospects become increasingly grim after 10 years or less. We tolerate a system that purposely sheds workers as they become more valuable. Our labor laws are a global joke, and we have to look at places like China, Russia, and India to find examples of where they are even worse. Add to this the fact that our governments refuse to enforce even those ridiculously inadequate laws and you get this absurd situation.

So what we are creating is a system wherein kids are saddled with crushing debts right out of university and then allowed to work just long enough to pay most of them off before they are tossed out to enter the service industry working under someone half their age that didn't have the capacity or desire to go through an additional 6 - 10 years of rigorous education after high school. What a deal!

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 03:11 PM

11. They want a 25 year old with 15 yrs experience

and a Ph.D. that they can pay $10 an hour.

Me-B.S. Biology--no jobs from it in 34 years since earning it.

Hubby - B.S., M.S. Physics/Math -- jobs in oil biz, got kicked out for getting old and expensive.

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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #11)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 09:28 PM

21. I have hired a number of biologists

who were selling shoes or waiting tables before they worked for me. When I opened a position, I would get literally 100s of well qualified applicants. Unfortunately, I am no longer in a position to hire, but I am a well employed and fairly well paid wetlands ecologist.

Colleges produce more far biologists than demand can ever absorb. I would love that not to be the case, but it is. It is true in a number of other fields as well.

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Response to quaker bill (Reply #21)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 11:37 PM

40. Couldn't get a job with the BS over 30 years ago.

So what did I do? Moved back home and went to grad school at night for five years.

Didn't get a job out of that Juris Doctor either.......

College and graduate school is a cruel, expensive lie, if you expect to get a job. Yeah, some of us developed our interests and learned to think, but if you were smarter than the boss, well, then they better fire your overqualified ass. Or not even hire you when you can see through their non-logical rules. Like firing you for violating work rules they didn't tell you about. That's extremely common.



All my life people told me I was brilliant, way above Mensa's top 2% and what bit of good has it done me to work hard and study? Zip.


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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #40)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 05:20 AM

53. Brilliant is a challenge

The number of bosses who are unthreatened by it is small. I haven't hired anyone brighter than me, simply because I never had the chance, but I always hired the brightest candidate I could find. They would challenge my judgement on occasion, but I need that.

Personally, I try not to show off too much, and developed interests away from the office. I even leave the occasional small grammar mistake in my documents for them to correct me on. It works.

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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #40)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 07:42 AM

54. Bingo! +1 for you & K&R for the thread. n/t

 

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 11:08 PM

34. The myth is powerful because people just assume STEM is the future.


And it might be, but there's no way you will employ 200 million people in STEM jobs.

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Response to reformist2 (Reply #34)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 11:18 PM

36. it is not in the capitalists' interest to educate and train lots of people to a high level. the

 

fewer, the better, because people who know how the technology works at a deep level can undermine it & use it for their own ends.

it's much better to have a small group of highly skilled people, pay (bribe) them very well, and tell them they are elite geniuses much better than everyone else. they can be controlled, whereas a larger group can't.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 11:21 PM

37. It's not a myth

Too many Americans are barely literate, and few know anything about science. How else could the Republican party get away with the crap it does? Americans compare unfavorably to other industrialized nations in math and science.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #37)


Response to HiPointDem (Reply #38)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 11:36 PM

39. really?

Look, I get that you think our education system is perfect because you're a teacher, but it's not. I've had these kids in college, and they are woefully under-educated, semi-literate and have no knowledge of how to write a basic library paper, something I learned in the 5th grade. Engineering programs in this country draw their students from foreign countries since too many Americans lack the basic math skills for admittance into college programs.

Here is a link with rankings: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0923110.html


What's right-wing is the notion that education is purely vocational in intent, which is the implication of the article above.

I'll piss you off even more. Too many teachers are under-educated. Education degrees are bogus, and too many teachers don't know enough about the subject matters they teach. I had a student who were preparing to teach 5th grade history. The preparatory course involved reading the 5th grade history textbook. That's it. Elementary ed students in the university I worked at sat around playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on recorders. I understand requirements for teaching certificates vary by state, but states like Florida that consider a Bachelor's in education adequate education are depriving their students of a decent education. Teachers should have a bachelor's degree in the subject they teach, plus any necessary instruction in pedagogy.

We currently have a willfully stupid population. If this country doesn't start to value liberal arts and science education again, we are going to continue to have the stupidest population on the planet.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #39)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 12:05 AM

42. Let me run you through my education training,

 

As you say, it varies by state, and Florida is notorious for its lax standards, a lot of states won't even cross certify teachers from Florida until they get some more education under their belt.

But anyway, I'm certified to teach K-12 in Missouri, certified to teach Social Studies and English at the secondary level. My training for that consisted of four years of college. There wasn't one semester that I wasn't taking at least eighteen hours, and only one summer that I wasn't taking classes. Normally, ed majors in our state take five years to complete their degree, there is so much work to get done, but I was in a hurry, and had some of the gen ed requirements already in the book. I walked out of a fairly prestigious little liberal arts college with a bachelors in elementary ed, secondary ed, history and english. I graduated suma cum laude and am a member of several academic honor societies. Now aside from the GPA, all ed students have to go through that particular regime, essentially get a degree in education and one in their specialty. Now you are not required to do the capstone project your senior year, but since that is generally just three hours, why not.

You're right, not every state is that rigorous. And yes, there are lots of bad teachers out there. But you know what, there is a solution to bad teachers, namely pay teachers like we pay doctors, starting them out in the high five figure, low figure salary range. Make it worth peoples' time to invest in getting an education degree. I can't tell you how many bright, promising students, who would have made great teachers, take a look at the status of their loans, and the starting salary of teachers, and then decide to go into something more profitable, like business. Start paying teachers like education really is job one in this country, and you will have top quality teachers in this country in no time.

But you've also got to recognize that a large part of the problem over the past ten years is government interference, in the form of NCLB, RTTT, and now Common Core standards. These programs have forced teachers to teach to the test, simply to retain their jobs and keep their schools in the public sphere. There has been a concerted and ongoing program designed to get rid of public education, and our children are suffering because of it.

As far as the push for STEM education, my thought is this, let students follow their own interests. Not every kid is cut out for STEM, not every kid is cut out for history, english, or art. But each and every subject is vital to our society, and there are plenty of people for every field. So if a kid doesn't want to do STEM stuff, don't force him, all you're going to do is ruin a life.

Oh, and as far as sitting around playing "Mary had a Little Lamb," you would be surprised at some of the stuff that ed students have to do, stuff that seems silly, stupid and childish. But you know what, if you actually looked at what was going on in the class, there was probably some pretty valid point being made about how to educate Pre-K or K students. You gotta relate to them on their level, and that includes "Mary had a Little Lamb."

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Response to MadHound (Reply #42)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 02:03 AM

52. You sound like a very well qualified teacher

and I'm happy to know the students of your state have you as a teacher.

I absolutely agree that teachers should be paid more. Their jobs are every bit as important as doctors. Investing in well-educated teachers is something we as a society could benefit from greatly.

As for STEM education, I think everyone needs a base level of science, math (in addition to English and social studies) education. The right-wing view toward science disturbs me, and I can't help but think that if we had better science education in K-12 and core requirements in college, the GOP wouldn't be able to get away with their lies about climate change, creationism, and their pseudo-science about rape.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #39)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 12:10 AM

44. i'm not a teacher. oh, and btw, Bain Capital is heavily invested in education reform, "Bain's Bane".

 

right wing talking points.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #44)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 01:50 AM

50. No kidding

Do you know what bane means?

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #38)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 11:43 PM

41. another point

I taught classes that secondary school teachers could take for continuing education credit, something about multi-cultural content. Those teachers were, with very few exceptions, the worst students I had. They refused to accept that there was more to history than memorizing events and dates and absolutely refused to consider the importance of analysis. This was in Florida, which is among the worst educational systems in the country. I pray that teachers in other states are better.

Now the fact that employers insist there are shortages of qualified candidates because they refuse to pay adequately is obvious, but that is a separate issue from the overall educational level of the population.

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #41)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 12:09 AM

43. yes, teachers are idiots. who can argue with what is so clear for all to see? replacing them

 

with temps lecturing on computers will be so much better.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #43)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 01:57 AM

51. What?

How does that relate to what I've said?

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Response to BainsBane (Reply #41)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 12:18 AM

46. You are basing all of your "insight" and opinion on one of the most notoriously stupid

 

Education training states in the country, and them broadbrushing all teachers everywhere with that limited slice. Don't you think that is rather, well, stupid? You are insulting millions of great teachers with your own narrow experience. Not the way to judge an entire group of people.

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Response to MadHound (Reply #46)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 01:49 AM

49. I thought I specified

that my experience was limited to Florida and that I hoped others were better. I also specified states that, like Florida, that don't require Bachelor's degrees in subject matter areas. Your education is obviously far superior to the students I had in Florida.
Do you happen to know how common it is for states to certify teachers with only education degrees?

Yes, it is stupid of me to assume that most teachers are like those in Florida, but memories of some of my own high school teachers in Minnesota confirm that experience. Some were excellent, and some clearly knew very little about the subject matter they taught. One had us read the textbook during every class while he read the newspaper. We had tests that were identical to multiple choice questions at the end of the chapter. It was possible to memorize the answers without knowing any of the content. I also recall taking an independent study course where I did library research papers. The teacher slapped As on my papers and never left a comment. What I learned was entirely of my own initiative. On the other hand, I had an old-fashioned grammar and composition teacher who taught advanced placement classes that left me with valuable skills I carry to this day.

To be clear, I think teachers have among the most important jobs in the nation and are terribly underpaid. Their work is not adequately respected, despite the fact that they oversee the education of our children--the nation's most important resources. I do think, however, that an overemphasis on pedagogy to the exclusion of content is problematic.

Edit: I also taught as a grad student at the University of Texas at Austin, which likewise had some marginally literate students. I understand that Southern states tend to have worse educational systems, but they also include a sizable proportion of the nation's K-12 students.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 12:25 AM

47. They want you to think we have a shortage of qualified STEM workers

That lets the big businesses claim they need more workers, and since they're apparently not here, what else can the companies do but import labor from India? They just created this narrative so they can cut labor costs without going through the trouble of outsourcing.

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Response to tarheelsunc (Reply #47)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 12:32 AM

48. indeed. i recently read they're trying to increase the h1b quota again. and h1b isn't the only

 

such program.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 08:20 AM

55. I have a degree in EE and manage UNIX systems

Why? Because there were a ton more UNIX admin jobs available than EE jobs available (admittedly I did systems & control; if I had done antennas I'd probably be in a better position). During the two years I was getting my masters, US firms laid off 20,000 EE's.

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Response to Recursion (Reply #55)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 04:51 PM

57. by EE do you mean electrical engineers?

Are there more jobs for other types of engineers?

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