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With all due respect, I take issue with your segment today (2/6) in your conversation with Daniel J. Flynn who was discussing his book "Blue Collar Intellectuals." I couldn't believe my ears when I heard my hero Thom Hartman say that my state accredited bachelor's degree was a "useless education." I am SICK AND TIRED of hearing talk show host make comments that basically say that if you don't have an IVEY LEAGE degree, then you wasted your money on your education. I now boycott (i.e. refuse to watch) Rachel Maddow and the Young Turks who have made similar uninformed remarks about modern day education.

While I completely respect your extensive and vast knowledge with all your life experience, you have no right to make judgment on mine. I attended the #1 private business school in the country. My night school teachers were required to work in the field they taught. Many also taught at a "big name" school here in town during the day. My statistics teacher worked in the aerospace industry. My Finance teacher was the VP of a bank. (At the time this was an honorable profession). I am now an editor of a major publication, and I believe that my "private school" English teacher was more instumental in helping me to write than any of my previous teachers. In addition, my math teacher made me actually enjoy doing math.

I worked very hard for my degree and I graduated with a 3.8 GPA in a double major. Many in my class couldn't cut the cirricullum and dropped out. And while maybe some of us are very intelligent, maybe we didn't have the money to attend Harvard, Oxford, Cornell, Stanford, etc. Maybe there are some people in the world who actually have to pay for their own education. Maybe some of us did not have the luxury of a trust fund and are working day jobs so we can support our families as we try to better ourselves. In today's fast paced world, working people do not have the option to attend a one-hour class at a traditional university every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1-2 pm from September to June only!

I realize this was not the point you were trying to make and some people have been taken advantage of by private schools. But just to clarify, not all of these schools are "diploma mills" just because you and your guest say they are. I graduated in 1993 BEFORE people were learning online, so I do NOT have an "online degree." And besides, any school not using the Internet in this day and age to teach their students is way BEHIND the times. Maybe some people have had different experiences with private schools, but personally I believe that I received a top-notch education which I am very proud of.

So I would appreciate it if you would please ISSUE A RETRACTION AND AN APOLOGY to this comment as this was a very insulting and unwise thing to say. I enjoy your show, so please do the right thing and correct this situation so I don't have to find another progressive talk show to keep me informed. Thank you.

stricko's picture
Feb. 6, 2012 3:10 pm


Congratulations on your technocrat training for a job function. I am sure there was lots of information to learn and that you worked and studied hard. I am sure that the expert technos who taught you were also hard working folks. I think you misunderstand the criticism of the decline in education for civic life and democracy, and it is also not about how smart anyone is.

In my experience in higher education, the "get a job" imperative did replace the get an education for life theme in the mid-70's. The cultural war that led to Reagan is largely responsible and the discrediting and elimination of liberal arts and "hippies" in the post-Vietnam age of Reaction is the frame that makes sense of it. All those students on low tuition with the freedom to drop out and come back. All those poets and art history majors whose minds were not on what they would get paid to pay off their loans were part of it. The whole idea that education for democratic life was about being somebody instead of a career was part of it. It had to go. It got in the way of the Cold War empire, so there were a lot of Cold War Democrats who went Neocon for Reagan in reaction to the youth revolt of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Very serious men they were indeed.

Not everybody who gets a technocrat education fails to learn anything about the world, but they do have to transcend their mentors and curriculum. The MBA is trash. It says that managing does not really have to know anything about the product or service being produced; and it led to a lot of financial games that destroyed businesses. I served as a college chaplain to a major Biz School and Law School, and the latter retained far more interest in the public role of the law than did those "called" to 'leadership in business.' The latter were fed a dogmatic and narcissistic line that shut down any thinking about corporate responsibility or the role of Commerce in a democratic and civilized society. Greed was baptized, and whatever could be stolen legally was considered ethical.

The loss of civics and the transformation of liberal education into job training has robbed the academcy of its mission, and in accepting the new model of corporate education, even our state universities have lost their way. Check out what Hedges has to say about it in DEATH OF THE LIBERAL CLASS.

DRC's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Just a quick thought.

I believe the original intent of a university higher eduaction in the 15-1600's was to get a well rounded education in the arts and the sciences. It was necessary to know the classic books, science, philosophy and history for everybody considered educated much more than today. It was as necessary as the Grand Tour of Europe after graduation. I think most of them got a degree in law.

Mercantilism was pretty straight forward but today we have capitalism/ corporatism which requires more knowledge. Unfortunately it has been at the expense of taking the arts and science studies seriously.

Of course only 5% of the population was urban and the rest were farmers which didnt require formal education either. Now only 5% of the population or less are farmers so things change.

Erik300's picture
Apr. 2, 2010 9:44 am

The vision of public education in a democracy, the public schools and universities, was tied into the belief, well founded, that a democracy is served by an educated populace. Were we focused on democracy instead of diverted by the "stupid economy," our sense of vocation as opposed to get a job or even "career," would have a public service component instead of a my money myopia. When you look at the "vision" or "mission statements" of our historic universities, you see a civic and world service perspective that has been lost by the enclosure of education and the price put on the soul.

DRC's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Looks like you graduated from Phoenix-U!

I don't think that Thom Hartmann said he only respects graduates from ivy-league universities. However, he did express concern about proprietary schools, including your alma mater.

In the olden days, when I was young, proprietary schools were referred to as matchbook universities.

peterwexler's picture
May. 16, 2010 2:16 pm

I've learned much much more since I got my college degree than I learned in college. And I went to a local state school. Of course with the internets tubes this is possible today, when it wasn't 20 years ago.

Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Education is supposed to create life-long learners instead of trained experts. Nurturing the curiosity of students is how learning is encouraged and we each have our own narrative thread we follow as we learn. Interaction with others is how our narratives expand beyond our own perspective and existential experience; but without our own story we are lost. Adopting the stories of others out of meaninglessness and confusion is a dangerous thing.

DRC's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote stricko:...While I completely respect your extensive and vast knowledge with all your life experience, you have no right to make judgment on mine.

Well, give Thom some credit here. He obviously didn't mean that everyone who attends such colleges dont get anything out them. I took his remarks to mean that now the amount of acutal skills and knowledge you get with a BA often is not enough to get a good paying job. I think that is true.

In fact, a lot of people think most education people get is really a cultural screening process - you make contacts in college and this helps you get employment outside.

When you think about it, most of the stuff you learn in college is not related to particular jobs at all, with some obvious exceptions. What kind of job do you get with a BA in psychology, the arts, history, economics or the sciences? A BA in computer science is a well known exception, but even now the market is soft, and many jobs are being outsourced.

Much of the job related skills are taught in the community or trade schools - such as nursing, construction, plumbing, auto mechanic, and so on.

Dr. Econ's picture
Dr. Econ
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

In this day and age it's more about the diploma than the education. It's more the minority who use a specific degree for a specific occupation whereas the majority with degrees don't even put into practice their major. That piece of paper is like the brass ring. Without it many occupations won't even consider hiring you no matter what the job opening entails. With it many occupations will hire you regardless of the major.

I told my boys that without the "golden key" of a college degree they are basically limited to ground floor opportunities in the world of "jobs" but with a degree then they have a "golden key" that can allow them access to some of the rooms from the ground floor and potentially up to the penthouse at the very top.

That is becoming less true with every passing year.

Bush_Wacker's picture
Jun. 25, 2011 6:53 am

College needs to do several things beyond coursework, because coursework and knowledge become obsolete quickly unless one deliberately keeps state-of-the art after college.

In addition to coursework, college should do the following:

1) Inculcate in all individuals a lifelong desire to learn.

2) Teach people to think well, deeply, and critically.

3) Teach people how ignorant we all are, but that it's all right, because nobody can know everything and we're all ignorant, just to different degrees and about different things.

If college does not do these things, it's wasted. One real world example of that is how it was wasted on George W. Bush.

Technical/voc-tech degrees may do #1, because it's necessary to keep up with breaking developments, such as they are, in one's vocational field. All too often, though, tech school only creates the necessity to learn in one's own narrow vocational field, nothing else. Tech degrees may teach people to be good thinkers about one's own field, but that's about all. As to teaching anybody how ignorant they are, tech degrees don't do that. They make people think they know enough about their own tech fields to make a living, and that's often true. That's OK, as far as it goes, but very few technical educations motivate grads to become renaissance people, and that's society's loss.

A trained mind is a very good thing, but without the informed sensibilities that come from liberal arts, a technically trained mind is destined to remain mechanistic and perfunctory, thus confined to utilitarian philistinism and unequipped to make enlightened choices and decisions when it comes to dealing with other people and the humanities.

Ulysses's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Republicans Admit to Accepting Bribes, Why Aren't They In Jail?

The whole Roy Moore thing in a way really highlights in my mind how committed the Republicans are to sucking up to the very, very wealthy base. I've been referring to them for a long time as the owners of the Republican Party, but they're also the ones that keep the Republican Party in power. They're also the supporters of the Republican Party.

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