On Monday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced with great fanfare that the state would eliminate the four-year-degree requirement for many of its government positions.
“The executive order will get rid of the requirement for more than 25,000 jobs, such as corrections officers, human services technicians and staff in state veterans homes,” the Star Tribune explained, while simultaneously expanding the pool of available workers for the growing government instituted by DFL leadership in the last legislative session.
Such news will likely raise many partisan arguments, but let’s set such things aside for a moment and focus on the facts of the matter, the biggest of which is the admission that many state jobs can be done without a college degree.
Wait a minute. Isn’t a college degree the thing we’ve been told is essential to success? Isn’t college the goal we’ve told our schools to aim for in preparing students for the real world? How is it that a four-year-degree is suddenly non-essential?
Perhaps the answer to each of these questions is that we’ve been sold a line and that college really isn’t all that necessary for most jobs after all.
If that’s true, then training our students to simply aim for college–cutting out the practical training received in shop, mechanics, and welding classes–was a severe mistake, hindering their advancement in real-world skills.
If that’s true, then we’ve put millions of students into massive debt for a worthless piece of paper.
And if that’s true, then perhaps we’ve just been wasting the time of our students, both in high school and in college.
This last point is one author Allan Bloom noted several decades ago in his book, The Closing of the American Mind:
[T]he colleges do not have enough to teach their students, not enough to justify keeping them four years, probably not even three years. If the focus is careers, there is hardly one specialty, outside the hardest of the hard natural sciences, which requires more than two years of preparatory training prior to graduate studies. The rest is just wasted time, or a period of ripening until the students are old enough for graduate studies.
If such is the case, then we can rejoice that Minnesotans are waking up to the vastly overrated and inflated nature of college education.
But such a revelation should also cause us to ask what other sacred cows we’ve come to accept without question. If our “experts” can convince us that college is necessary, when it seems it really isn’t, then what other lines are they duping us into believing about the elementary, middle, and high school years?
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