A new book, an old topic

Published 9:53 am Friday, March 2, 2018

When Americans are asked about the importance of education, generally the majority respond that there is no greater financial investment in one’s future than a college degree. No doubt this viewpoint has its critics.

A new book released at the end of January has a title that is likely to raise eyebrows as well as the volume of discussions about higher education in particular, and all of education in general.

The book, by Bryan Caplan, is entitled “The Case Against Education: Why the Education System is a Waste of Time and Money.” That title is just beginning to get attention, and it’s likely to be highly controversial.

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As a writer for National Review, Max C. Eden has noted, “Arguing against education might seem as un-American as arguing against apple pie.” He says “But apple pie is mostly empty calories, and quite unhealthy in large quantities. So too, Caplan contends, is education.”

Recent data from 2017 (based on a survey by the Pew Research Center) show that college graduates are more likely to be employed full-time than their less-educated counterparts, and are less likely to be unemployed, 4 percent versus 12 percent.

U.S. Labor Department statistics, based on an analysis of study by the Economic Policy Institute, show that Americans with four-year college degrees are not only equipped for a fulfilling adult and professional life but make considerably more per hour on average than those without a degree.

A national survey by New America (a non-partisan think tank) resulted in three-fourths of the respondents agreeing that it is easier to be successful with a college degree.

At least 80 percent said “…community colleges contribute to a strong work force, are worth their cost, and prepare people to succeed.”

The results of that poll also highlighted that “…more than 6o percent of those responding said higher education was good for society, compared with about 25 percent who said it was primarily a benefit for individuals.”

Regardless of Professor Caplan’s provocative title for his book, Tri-State area residents can make a case for education. Available to them and their families are a variety of college opportunities at the public two-year institutions, a major university, a Bible college, and a private church-affiliated college, within easy driving distance.

Here, next door to many of us, are institutions that serve students of all ages. Without them, area residents might not be able to advance their education and look forward to a more financially secure and rewarding life.

William H. Baker, a Claiborne County, Tennessee, native and former resident of Middlesboro, may be contacted at wbaker@limestone.edu.