In this op-ed for the NYT, Tom Friedman speaks about how the old rules of “working hard and playing by the rules” no longer is a guarantee for economic prosperity in American life. Now one must have a secondary school education and expect to learn and relearn throughout one’s life.
But what got me thinking is how these jobs requiring more than a high school diploma, or even more than a two year degree, are vanishing because manufacturing positions are leaving the U.S. for China, Mexico, and India. So those who are hampered by their socioeconomic status and it’s prevailing culture have little chance to be successful in life. We need to get help to the next generation through better primary and high schools and lower the tuition rates at community colleges and universities.
Now these are not easily tackled problems in the United States, but we can do it if we put more of an emphasis on learning in our popular culture, I believe, for one. It’s not cool amongst Middle/Lower class kids to do homework and raise their hands in class. It’s cool to play sports and be the class clown.
A greater cultural emphasis on getting a good education, and providing those opportunities to all people despite SES, is our only way forward.