Maybe the Problem is We Overvalue Education


The recent media frenzy over Scott Walker’s lacking college diploma has had me pondering a wide variety of failures in regard to our educational stigmas. While the attacks on Walker have largely been from the media, there is no doubt that the issue will again rise to the surface on the 2016 stage. The notion that he left to work in a small business will, sadly, go undiscussed.

It’s not an uncommon ‘issue’, either. We all watched the cringe-worthy statements by now-Senator David Perdue over fellow candidate Karen Handel’s lack of college education unfold while questioning the necessity and relevancy. Especially considering that both come from a college-degrees-graduategeneration of folks that focused on entrepreneurial roots and touted self-sufficiency. Scott Walker is not far behind. In fact, there probably aren’t many of us who don’t know a boot-strap entrepreneur without a diploma that we respect and seek to emulate.

College diplomas are necessary because we have made them to be. We have demanded that they be: Democrats because of “access” and “equality; Republicans because “The Jones’” and “top-tier excellence.” As Republicans, we complain about Democrats wanting to have all the degrees..and for free. That’s wrong. But perhaps the degrees would be less appealing if we didn’t make the case that you are worthless in society without one.

The result: Our society is no longer unique.

While some sort of high school diploma is valuable, we do so many students a disservice by not offering them technical diplomas and trade diplomas. We are lacking when it comes to specialties and trades. We look down on our technical colleges and community colleges. Suburban metro Atlanta is especially guilty of this. But worse, a college diploma is often a certificate of complete for the soccer moms. The ‘I got my child through!’ stamp of approval. The apple-to-apple comparison for dinner parties.

They say you don’t add value unless you mine it, manufacture it, or grow it. When was the last time you heard encouragement for either of those 3 things? We struggle to find the air conditioning men and the plumbers and the welders because we, as a society, teach that that isn’t sufficient. Heck, even our agriculture relies on big-time, big-ag multi-millionaire businessmen…not the small town farmer.

I know my peers from both my undergrad and graduate programs. I know what they think of their education. I know their goals and I can say with confidence that I trust someone of blue-collar or entrepreneurial caliber above the guy with 3 MBA’s, a double major from undergrad, and a colorful robe on graduation day.

It’s time that both sides start looking at education past the goal line. It’s important but it should never cancel out the people who have persevered despite the educational system. It’s time we acknowledge that it is difficult to be a businessperson in America and the real-life experience should never be second fiddle to the traditional education.

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