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hp blogger Matthew Bruenig's Comments

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College Seniors Should Reconsider Teach for America

College Seniors Should Reconsider Teach for America

Commented Jan 27, 2011 at 13:12:52 in College

“I am not assuming the number of jobs is constant. But I am assuming that the number of jobs with low-skills is at least somewhat constant. You can do all you want with education, but janitors, service workers, hotel workers, etc etc will always be necessary (unless perhaps we get so educated we make robots to do it all I guess).

But you see what I am saying. Structurally speaking, we have jobs that must be done that are simply low-skilled. Unless other things are put into place to prevent the market price for that labor from being paid (which is necessarily low), the children of them will remain poor.”
College Seniors Should Reconsider Teach for America

College Seniors Should Reconsider Teach for America

Commented Jan 23, 2011 at 22:12:03 in College

“The cause of educational inequity is economic inequality. That was the point of the article.

You solve the former by solving the latter. You don't seriously think that you will solve economic inequality by doing TFA do you? I mean even if we get past the fact that it is a basic failure even in what it is trying to do, suppose for a second that it was a huge success and after TFA everyone was super-educated. Will that solve economic inequality? Will janitors get paid a living wage now? Will service workers, maids, food workers, etc. get paid a living wage now?

No of course. In capitalism, you are paid equivalent to how much it would cost to replace you. In all low-skill positions that amount is poverty wages period. So poverty will persist in all of those positions. You have committed a scalability fallacy. Just because it is *structurally* possible for one person to succeed economically, that does not mean it is *structurally* possible for everyone to succeed economically. If every single American was as brilliant as Einstein and got a PhD, would poverty end tomorrow? No. Why? Because there are jobs that don't pay a living wage, something TFA does. not. solve.

So you really are spinning your wheels.”

raginsagehen on Mar 10, 2011 at 01:58:48

“You betray your lack of understanding of economics with this comment. There is no such thing as a "structural" limitation; the economy is NOT a zero-sum game (To be formal, this fallacy is called the lump of labor fallacy). If all Americans, including the poor, were better educated, then America will be more productive. The evidence is the explosion of the American economy after World War II, when we shifted our economy to productive, factory-line industry. Today, we are shifting to a service-based economy, meaning we will need better and longer educations. That's why it's my goal to get kids educated as a TFA teacher.

Just because you used the word "scalability," doesn't mean you know what you're talking about. Also "living wage" is another meaningless buzz word. People get paid not by some evil top-hat capitalist. They are actually paid the product of one's labor (how much they contribute to society) times the price (how much society values what they contribute). Read it, get yourself educated (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marginal_revenue_productivity_theory_of_wages). You are in college after all.

Cheers,
Joe”

mrnormalpants on Jan 24, 2011 at 15:36:06

“Well clearly there is some endogeneity here. Economic circumstances have a huge impact on educational outcomes. Educational outcomes in turn have an impact on improving economic inequality. "That was the point of raginsagehen's comment." I don't think he/she had an issue grasping what you said.

Whether TFA will "solve economic inequality" seems to be a major point in your comment. Will ANY job solve economic inequality? What job exactly puts an end to poverty? Are those the only jobs a reasonable person is supposed to pursue and accept now?

raginsagehen hopes to improve educational outcomes for the kids he/she comes in contact with. Hopefully raginsagehen is successful. If so, research suggests that those kids will likely have better economic outcomes. So you can in fact help improve economic outcomes through education, it doesn't HAVE to be the other way around as you seem to suggest. Furthermore, when these children he/she is teaching become adults, they will go through vastly different decision making processes when it comes to valuing the education of their own kids, based on their previous (again, hopefully positive) educational experiences. This leads me to the conclusion of my somewhat rambling comment: research suggests that it might be the education level of parents and not their socioeconomic status that best predicts how their children do in school. In other words, a really good way to improve future educational outcomes (and inequality) in this country is to improve educational outcomes in the present.”

JS OBrien on Jan 24, 2011 at 15:15:07

“I suspect responding to this is a waste of time, because a recent study published in a book suggests that students at places like the University of Oklahoma, which is really just a football team with a faux school attached, learn no useful critical thinking skills in four years there. http://chronicle.com/article/Trust-Us-Wont-Cut-It/125978/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

And what you write tends to bear this out. The Stanford study involved only fourth and fifth-graders (TFA runs through all grades), and was completed nine years ago, which means that more recent studies that show statistically significant gains for TFA-taught kids over those taught by certified teachers would be more relevant to current reality. I think I'll also point out that studies run by those who teach in education schools tend to "show" that TFA is not as effective as certified teachers, and studies done by those outside the field of education tend to demonstrate the opposite. The devil is in the details.

As for your maunderings concerning the usefulness of unions in an age when the global supply of unskilled labor far outstrips demand ... well ... you might want to take a course or two in macroeconomics at a real university. You may find that skilled labor attracts skilled and high-paid jobs, and that skills acquisition is largely a product of education.”
College Seniors Should Reconsider Teach for America

College Seniors Should Reconsider Teach for America

Commented Jan 23, 2011 at 22:05:08 in College

“TFA says on their own website that their goal is absolutely 100% not to fill teacher shortages. So, perhaps they should change what they say about themselves. After all, the program actually comes off as much worse if it is functioning as a teacher shortage program because instead of spending the enormous sums of money that goes to TFA every year on just simply paying some teachers, they waste it on paying teachers that are worse.
But of course, the real point is that solve poverty and you solve education issues. Making really poor (by the studies estimate) attempts at addressing a problem without addressing the root has not worked out. The experiment is a failure, and we need to move on.”