Professional Educator Answer Guy Responds to President Obama

“Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma.”
-President Obama. Not the State of the Union Address. 2.24.09

The question is: why? Why do three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma?

Hi. I’m Professional Educator Answer Guy. Not only do I answer your educational policy questions, whether you ask them or not, but I’m also someone you want to be friends with. As you heard President Obama say, we in the professional education business will soon be stinking rich, flush with billions and billions of dollars we don’t even begin to know what to do with.

We’re the hedge fund managers of the 2010s. The corporate CEOs of the teens. We’re the new Barbarians at the Gate, baby!

And no, you can’t have any unless you start acting more friendly to us. Start showing up at some parent/teacher conferences. Help us out at the bake sale more often. Quit planning your son’s dental appointment during his U.S. History class. Shape up and, who knows, maybe we’ll help that lousy son of yours get through high school and get a job in one of those fastest-growing occupations President Obama was talking about.

Which, finally, gets us back to the question: Why do three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma? Well, let’s look at the list of 30 fastest-growing professions. Better yet, as this table is from your friendly U.S. Governmental Bureau of Labor Statistics, and I’m now a big-wig Professional Educator, let’s just steal parts of the table and put them right here.  Man, I feel so AIG executive blowing taxpayer money for a company shindig in Tahiti doing this…


Fastest Growing Occupation…..Post-Secondary Degree-Service Needed

1. Network systems and data communications ….. Bachelor’s degree

2. Personal and home care aides …… Short ojt training

3. Home health aides …… Short ojt training

4. Computer software engineers, applications ….. Bachelor’s degree

5. Veterinary technologists and technicians ….. Associate degree

6. Personal financial advisors …….. Bachelor’s degree

7. Makeup artists, theatrical and performance …… Post-sec. voc. award

8. Medical assistants …….. Moderate ojt training

9. Veterinarians ………. First prof. degree

10. Substance abuse/behavioral disorder counselors….. Bachelor’s degree

11. Skin care specialists ……… Post-sec. voc. award

12. Financial analysts …… Bachelor’s degree

13. Social and human service assistants ….. Moderate ojt training

14. Gaming surveillance officers/gaming investigators….. Moderate ojt training

15. Physical therapist assistants ….. Associate degree

16. Pharmacy technicians …….. Moderate ojt training

17. Forensic science technicians ……. Bachelor’s degree

18. Dental hygienists ……….. . Associate degree

19. Mental health counselors ……….. Master’s degree

20. Mental health/substance abuse social workers….. Master’s degree

21. Marriage and family therapists ……. Master’s degree

22. Dental assistants …………… Moderate ojt training

23. Computer systems analysts …….. Bachelor’s degree

24. Database administrators ……. Bachelor’s degree

25. Computer software eng., systems software….. Bachelor’s degree

26. Gaming and sports book writers and runners …… Short ojt training

27. Environmental science technicians….. Associate degree

28. Manicurists and pedicurists ………. Post-sec. voc. award

29. Physical therapists ……….. Master’s degree

30. Physician assistants ……… Master’s degree

ojt = on-the-job-training

Post-sec. voc. award= Post-Secondary Vocational Award

Hmmm…sounds like helping people to both gamble and deal with substance abuse are real growth industries. But we’re not here to judge the merit of a society that obviously places an incredible amount of its attention on skin and nail care, we’re here to answer a serious question.

And that answer is this: perhaps the reason many of the jobs above “require” college now is because our high schools place little/no emphasis on training for any of these jobs. Look at the occupations with demands for a “post-secondary vocational award”. Why on Earth can’t high schools train people for those jobs? How about those requiring “associate degrees”. Why can’t high schools do a better job of integrating their programs into a seamless course of study leading to a quicker, faster, better Dental Hygienists program? That’s not to mention the most obvious high school-ready type jobs that only require “on-the-job training”.

Your Professional Educator Answer Guy loves Shakespeare. Teaches “Macbeth” every year. Is a total snob when you come down to it. But even Answer Guy agrees that our public school system needs to reattach itself to the workplace, and give its high school students more options than just a Multiple Choice Final on “King Lear”.

Frankly, we in the, soon-to-be gloriously funded, K-12 game have stuck to our nostalgic obsession with the high school of yesterday to the detriment of the high school of today. We’ve also let community colleges brand themselves as the be-all, end-all for “trades”, while doing little/nothing to provide a meaningful bridge to those students whose passion runs more to plumbing than sonnets.

Professional Educator Answer Guy says this needs to change, and with all the Benjamins rolling in we should allocate serious dollars to a forward-thinking apprentice/trades program in grades 9-12. In addition, we need to get Math out of its algebraic ivory tower and create some pre-engineering programs that use Math and lead to real jobs.

As for us “Humanities” teachers, well… somebody’s gotta go to Oberlin and Bennington. We just need to stop teaching every student as if they, too, would respond positively to four years of lousy crumbs left along a weedy trail that supposedly leads to the wonderful land of “college”. And financial aid. And student loans.

P.S.: And, yes, your beloved Professional Educator Answer Guy (and Humanities teacher) loves literature, the study of history and social change, and thinks today’s students need art, music, and all that. I’m just saying maybe we could teach students to write a better professional email along with a better sonnet.


7 thoughts on “Professional Educator Answer Guy Responds to President Obama

  1. OK Answer Guy, answer me this. With all the money coming down the pike for education, why are teachers being asked to take a 1.5% cut in pay?Could it maybe mean that all those educational dollars are really only for the contractors building the schools and not really for the educators?

  2. Wow, a chance to actually comment before going to school (looks like a good day to bike ride to work, btw).Anon: My hopeful side says this is a case of the State stupidly holding onto tradition and not delaying its session until the impact of the stimulus is clearer. The air-guitar action up in Santa Fe right now must be pretty intense, given as they have no idea what the actual budget should/can be for anything.My less hopeful side agrees that mindless, aimless construction is what these folks know best, and a “Suncal the World” option is quite often, like road construction, the default answer to any question. Believe it or not, I could actually uselessly blab on for hours about this, but I’ve got a bike to get on.

  3. To Anomymous: Or, all those educational dollars are going not only to construction contractors, but to publishing contractors, e.g., America’s Choice, Jim Shipley Assoc., Success for All, etc., etc.

  4. Abuelita: I’m going to try to find out one way or the other just how many “intervention” packages have been bought by the District, for how much and how the “bidding” process worked.Of course, this J-O-B will probably slow me down in this search, in more ways than one. If only we had some tight-knit group of teachers across the district to share information on what’s going on regarding this stuff. For example, what are the planned changes to individual middle school schedules throughout the district for 09-10?

  5. “why are teachers being asked to take a 1.5% cut in pay?”Because they work 182 6 1/2 hours days per year (1183 hrs), and the rest of the world works 210 (plus or minus) eight hour days per year (1680).Teachers are seen to be earning equivalent salaries, to other bachelors degrees) for 70% of the work.If teachers worked the same hours as other workers at the same hourly rate, they would earn a 42% raise.There is considerable public resentment toward raising teachers salaries.I am not presenting these points because I am defending the logic, just putting them on the table for discussion.

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