“Do you see that guy?” a father asks his son, pointing to the man going down into a septic tank to clean it out. The son nods his head in the affirmative. “If you don’t want to be like that guy,” the father continues, “you better buckle down at school or else that’s where you’ll end up.”
That conversation has happened millions of times, and it has gotten millions of kids to work hard enough to get into college. For Mike Rowe, however, well…he did what he could to turn that guy going into the septic tank into a rock star.
Rowe has been very vocal about his belief that the emphasis Americans place on going to college is misplaced, believing instead, that technical education may be a better fit for a lot of graduating seniors, and it might pay better too. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Rowe took issue with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sander recently.
Bernie Sanders tweets, “At the end of the day, providing a path to go to college is a helluva lot cheaper than putting people on a path to jail.”
I wonder sometimes, if the best way to question the increasingly dangerous idea that a college education is the best path for the most people, is to stop fighting the sentiment directly, and simply shine a light on the knuckleheads who continue to perpetuate this nonsense. This latest tweet from Bernie Sanders is a prime example. In less than 140 characters, he’s managed to imply that a path to prison is the most likely alternative to a path to college. Pardon my acronym, but…WTF!?
Historically, universities have promoted themselves at the expense of many other forms of “alternative education.” The implicit suggestion, reinforced daily by a generation of well-intended guidance counselors and misguided parents, is always the same – get yourself a four-year degree, or accept one of the many “vocational consolation prizes” that result from all other forms of “lesser knowledge.”
It’s a cautionary tale as predictable as it is false. But now, as people are slowly starting to understand the obscenity of 1.3 trillion dollars in student loans, along with the abundance of opportunity for those with the proper training, it seems the proponents of “college for all” need something even more frightening than the prospect of a career in the trades to frighten the next class into signing on the dotted line. According to Senator Sanders, that “something,” is a path to jail.
Rowe goes on to consider the possibility that Sanders doesn’t know just how many college educated felons there are in this country and that maybe the 140 character maximum on Twitter just got in his way.
However, Rowe is right on the deeper issue. For decades, both parents and educators have been pushing college as the goal. A career in the trades, they argue, is for those people who just aren’t smart enough for college. But is that true?
Lately, at least in part thanks to Rowe, trade education has grown into a far more respectable alternative for many students. There’s now a college dedicated to teaching building trades, after all.
Frankly, Sanders’ comments, arguing that ones choices boil down to either college or jail after high school, is bound to offend a great many people who did neither. Do those people not exist?
We agree with Rowe. This subject deserves far more than 140 characters.