Gerald Bracey:

President Obama told the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, “8th graders have fallen to 9th place.” That statistic comes from the 2008 round of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. It’s true. But there were 45 nations in the study so being in 9th place means being ahead of 36. More important, when TIMSS first began in 1995, American eighth graders finished 28th among 41 nations. Over 13 years, we have “fallen” up 19 ranks. Many would consider that extraordinary progress.


Bracey again:

According to the president, “Of the 30 fastest growing occupations in America, half require a bachelor’s degree or more.” First off, that means that half do not require even a bachelor’s. More important, the fastest growing occupations never account for many jobs.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupations accounting for most jobs are low-paying service sector jobs. Retail sales alone accounts for more jobs than the top ten fastest growing jobs combined. For every systems analyst Microsoft lusts after, Wal-Mart and other retailers put about 15 sales associates on the floor.

Here are the occupations the Bureau projected as those with the most jobs from 2006 to 2016: retail sales, cashiers, office clerks, registered nurses, janitors and cleaners, bookkeeping clerks, waiters and waitresses, food preparers and servers, customer service representatives, and truck and tractor drivers. Shouldn’t we focus at least in part on providing these tens of millions with living wages and health benefits?

Or Robert N. Charette:

What’s perhaps most perplexing about the claim of a STEM worker shortage is that many studies have directly contradicted it, including reports from Duke University, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Rand Corp. A 2004 Rand study, for example, stated that there was no evidence “that such shortages have existed at least since 1990, nor that they are on the horizon.”

And in the same article:

Clearly, powerful forces must be at work to perpetuate the cycle. One is obvious: the bottom line. Companies would rather not pay STEM professionals high salaries with lavish benefits, offer them training on the job, or guarantee them decades of stable employment. So having an oversupply of workers, whether domestically educated or imported, is to their benefit. It gives employers a larger pool from which they can pick the “best and the brightest,” and it helps keep wages in check. No less an authority than Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, said as much when in 2007 he advocated boosting the number of skilled immigrants entering the United States so as to “suppress” the wages of their U.S. counterparts, which he considered too high.

So how can reformers prepare kids for the future when they don’t understand the job market?  And if they do understand it wherefore the lies?


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