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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Being Educated Is a Good Thing

From Rhonda...

Being educated is a good thing

I never thought I would see the day when being educated and informed was a bad thing. But right now there is a prevailing wind with many conservatives that if you are educated or want research and facts you are not a regular guy that shoots from the hip and uses their common sense. Rick Santorum said at a gathering in Troy the other day that because President Obama wanted children to be able to go to college, he was “a snob.” He said this in Troy, to rousing applause. Funny, from a guy with 3 college degrees. Mind you, the President actually said college, community college, training or vocational school, but I digress.

I moved to Troy, like many people, for the excellent schools. It is a very important selling feature for our community, businesses and real estate values. Anyone that doesn’t know or is unwilling to admit that is not being truthful. Ask an honest realtor, chamber of commerce member or school board member. They will tell you. Talk to residents that have kids. They will tell you.

Comments about people that are educated being “elitist” are just ridiculous and more base stirring. Rush Limbaugh recently slagged a Holly, MI author and NYU graduate as “over-educated,” because he didn’t agree with her book’s thesis. Imagine an NYU education for your child is now the insult hurled at them. Talk about pandering and ugly.

Everyone wants the best for their children. I am fully aware that not all children need to go to college. My wonderful contractor had his son working side by side with him on a recent remodel in my home. His son is the same age as my own son, who at the time was away at MSU. The young man was great at his job and he was learning a much-needed trade from his dad. I loved watching them work together. But he told me that he wanted to go to vocational school to learn to operate heavy machinery and he probably should take a couple business classes so he can do his books. He is ambitious and will be successful, I have no doubt. And I have nothing but respect for his abilities and life choices.

So, why the attitude about college? Many people want their children to go to college, either because the children want to, they went and want the same for their kids or they didn’t and want better for them. This is about loving and encouraging kids in an increasingly competitive world. If we don’t graduate more engineers, mathematicians and scientists, we are going to be so far behind the rest of the world that we may never catch up.

Please tell me this isn’t about “liberal professors” or some such rot. College is a time to test our views in the world and see how they measure up and grow up. I hope that is not the underlying issue with conservatives. That their children may go off and find there is another way of looking at ideas that don’t line up with their parents. We all know people who are book smart, but don’t have a lick of common sense. We also know people that are not college educated, but are very smart and successful. What those people have is not an attitude against information and research, but a seeking out of any and all they can get their hands on. They know that they can’t rely on just their gut, but must dig deep for information and educate themselves on all facets of a topic whether, and sometimes because they don’t agree with it. That is what informed decision-making is all about.

I am not interested in leaders who just pontificate their personal views, or ones that I could have a beer with. I have friends for that. I want civic leaders that hold education as a core value: for our children, the community and for themselves. I want leaders to avail themselves of any and all information, from multiple sources, when making important decisions that affect our lives and property. Don’t we want the best and brightest leading our city or our nation?

Then we must go out and demand it.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you, Rhonda, for your outstanding essay. You have thoughtfully articulated how so many of us feel about education. Education, in whatever form, is a very good thing. And wanting to go to college, university, vocational school, technical school etc. is not an elitist notion. More and more these days, it is absolutely essential to the growth of our economy and for us to be able to compete globally.

    Willful ignorance is not something in which we should take pride. Ignorance is a path to failure and self-destruction. I hope Troy citizens will remember that when they vote in November.

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  2. Great essay, Rhonda. Way to expose the hypocrisy of a party completely out of ideas, with only cynicism to support their platforms and rally their troops.

    I find it both infinitely amusing and sad that the Republican Party has decided to go here in their ongoing duping of single-issue people into believing that they, the richest one percent of the country are really good old boys themselves. With this latest use of "elitist" as a slam against people who go to college, they even accuse President Obama of this. I actually heard a Michigan voter say on the radio a few weeks back that he was voting for Rick Santorum because he didn't act all smart and stuff. Wow. How low we have sunk.

    Mr. Obama was raised in a single parent home by a mother on food stamps. He won a scholarship to Harvard and worked for every bit of his education. Compare that with a multimillionaires silver spooners like Mitt Romney or $100K credit-line at Tiffany's Newt Gingrich . I'm sorry, who are the elites here?

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  3. Here is a good op-ed piece on the same issue:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/09/opinion/krugman-ignorance-is-strength.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general

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  4. Lynn, that was a great article. The Republican party has just gone so far right that I don't recognize it any more.

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