It’s troubling that far-right members of the Texas State Board of Education insist on dumbing down education in science, social studies and other public school classes. But it’s hardly surprising. The knee-jerk anti-education reflex that characterizes the far right these days surely exasperates even mainstream conservatives. Eagle Forum’s website today offers another example of that anti-education reflex: a facts-free diatribe by Phyllis Schlafly against efforts to promote college education for young Americans.
Schlafly sneeringly insists such efforts are misguided. She argues, essentially, that many American high school graduates are too dumb and unprepared and will fail to learn much during their “five-year party” in college:
“Many of these kids wind up in low-skill, low-pay jobs such as cashiers, waiters, theater ushers, and postal workers, which can easily be performed by high school graduates.”
For example, the unemployment rate in 2009 among Americans with just a high school diploma (9.7 percent) was more than twice as high as the jobless rate among Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree (4.6 percent). In fact, even Americans who attended college but earned no degree had a lower unemployment rate (8 percent) than those who had only a high school diploma. (People who didn’t even graduate from high school had even bleaker employment prospects.)
In addition, the median income for workers with only a high school diploma was more than third below the median income for workers with at least a bachelor’s degree in 2006. Even workers who had attended some college but earned no degree tended to have higher incomes than workers whose formal education stopped at high school graduation.
In any case, Schlafly goes on to argue that instead of building a better workforce and making the country more prosperous, helping more kids attend college will just lead to what she sees as liberal indoctrination of more students. Such an absurd argument is a perfect example of the irrational nonsense birthed by the far right’s blind anti-education ideology these days.
You will recall, by the way, that the Texas state board last year insisted on adding Schlafly’s name to a list of influential political conservatives social studies students should learn about. Requiring public school students to learn about someone who opposes making it easier for them to get a college education is rather ironic, to say the least.