American Education in USA--in TERRE HAUTE where one Sign at the Steakhouse reads: DRAFT BEER, NOT SOLDIERS
By Kevin Stoda in Kuwait
Recently, I flew back to the USA to be with my father as my step-mother of nearly 20 years had recently passed away. During my drive to my father's home in Jackson, Michigan from where I had parked my car in Missouri, I passed through the town of Terre Haute, Indiana.
Terre Haute is the home of Indiana State University in a historically blue collar and farming state. A block or so from the main campus I pleasantly noted that one signboard in front of a local steakhouse boldly welcomed students back to Indiana State this August with the adage: "DRAFT BEER, NOT WAR".
I smiled and was happy to see that some sort of public debate is in the air this year in the USA concerning a debate by concerned young Americans on whether a national conscription is soon to be implemented. Alas, my smile turned to frustration a few minutes later as I continued my drive up towards the region of wooden covered bridges around Rockville, Indiana. This frown of frustration was the result of a commercial on one of the local hard rock radio stations from Terre Haute. I heard a glossy-sounding advertisement aimed at recruiting young female students to join the National Guard.
In that radio advert, a young American women went on-and-on explaining why young women should join the National Guard. This female recruiter had mainly two points: (1) She had become a more self-confident young person by joining the military, and (2) she felt like she was protecting her family and country.
I realized that in contrast to the lone advertising sign in front of a steakhouse back in Terre Haute, the clout of the National Guard's nationwide recruiting budget was a humongous beast-and it seems to be busily devouring the hearts and minds of confused and misdirected young Americans.
ALIENATED STUDENTS IN USA
Less than a week later several newspaper articles in Michigan caught my attention as they are related to the education and training process of young Americans. I, myself, currently work in vocational training of youths in Kuwait (but not American youths. I teach Kuwaiti youths starting on their career at one of the national petroleum companies.)
The first article evaluated revealed the results of a national survey and then primarily focused on the results in Michigan. The author was concerned about the likelihood of present 16- to 18-year old Michigan high school students either (a) graduating from a vocational or community college within 4 years or (b) graduating from a university or college within 8 years. The article writer pointed out that Michigan students were well under the national average in both these categories. An furtive explanation was given saying that young people were disillusioned with their educational options in America, but the article didn't elaborate further.
In summary, the author of that aforementioned first article stated simply that a large portion of American youth were disillusioned with the education system in America. That is, not only are the public primary and secondary students and parents unhappy with the American education process, but university-age students are finding the prominent options and modes of education in the USA as deplorable or at least disillusioning. (For decades now U.S. education has been basking in its status as the best in the world in its offerings higher education. However, such a survey of students disillusioned with the higher education process in the USA is seldom discussed either in the USA or abroad.)
The same author should have t out that students in American university and college levels in America have been leaving school (graduation or not) with the largest educational debts in American-especially since the 1970s when the GI bill ended. These financial debts are one of the many reasons that young people in America join the military-despite being shipped off to war and to other dangerous places year after year.
Similarly, a second article I noted that same weekend concerned the huge recent increase of young recruits joining America's armed services in this August 2007.
This increase was largely due to $20,000 joining bonuses currently being offered new recruits. It is questionable whether this sudden increase in young people leaving colleges and universities in autumn 2007 will continue very much longer as university classes are starting up and the many American university students, who have decided to run-up their debt on run-away education costs, have made their decision to borrow and forego falling prey to the short-gains promised them by military recruiters--who often cannot back up a majority of their recruitment promises each year.
Now, it is important to connect the dots among these facts: