Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wealth - Create or distribute? You make the call.

I wrote the following as a response to a mail thread from Wheresthemath group. The discussion started out on a commentary on the complacency that is apparent in the public education establishment.

"As a person who has spent over 25 years in high tech private sector, I can vouch with personal experience that there is a dire need for both the industry and education to inform each other. I got involved when a group of administrators toured the Intel facility in the late 1980s, and asked managers like me what they would like to see improved. I recall telling them “build teamwork skills”. I had no idea that they would throw everything else out in the process, or at least it seemed like it. It was not until I started volunteering in class rooms that I really started seeing the difference in mind sets. After watching this unfold over a decade, here is the pattern I see emerging.

If one looks at the economy as a whole, where goods and services are provided and consumed, one can broadly classify them as wealth producing and wealth redistribution. In this economy, most of the wealth producing activities like R&D, Engineering, Science, Technology, are in the private sector. The public sector has the lock on wealth redistribution, with programs like social security, medicare, etc. Public education seems to be in a no man’s land in between. Its charter should be enabling wealth creation, by providing skilled and knowledgeable labor pool to the private sector. Yet, because they are funded from the wealth redistribution side of the economy, that is all it seems to appreciate. Layers upon layers of educrats in the system and the colleges of education seem to reinforce the “mission” that instilling a sense of social justice in the students more important than providing them with world class skills to compete in an increasingly global economy.

I think the only way people will appreciate what is going on is for reality to continuously reinforce that they are on the wrong thought process. A prolonged recession, a depression, unemployed kids moving back in with their fixed income parents, all will go up with time. I just wonder how much worse it has to get before the tide turns."


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