Morgan's Brain

Dec. 18, 2008 at 2:00am

What's Good For Tacoma Is Good For Washington

The Puget Sound Regional Council is reporting that Washington is slacking at producing bachelor's and advanced degrees.

Washington needs to produce more bachelor's and advanced degrees: Among its peers, Washington is the only one showing a decline in postsecondary degrees awarded from 2004 to 2006. Every peer state - and the U.S. as a whole - showed an increase in the rate of degree production.

And I thought this was a problem unique to Tacoma. It's been known for some time that Tacoma's demographics don't look great for attracting potential new businesses. Most retailers, for example, look at income and education levels when locating new stores. Whole Foods is one. Even though everyone knows that people would flock from all over if one were to open in Tacoma. But as it turns out, Tacoma is only reflecting what is a larger statewide issue.

So, Washington is getting dumber and Tacoma needs more degreed residents. What to do about it? Having UWT in Tacoma will help - especially now that it's a four-year school. But it will be decades before we see the results of this reflected in any measurable numbers. Some communities are paying kids to stay in school. I'm not sure how effective this has been, but it could be worth looking into. California used to have free (or extremely reduced) tuition for residents. I'm not sure if they still do this though.

What else?


comments [14]  |  posted under tacoma


by jenyum on 12/17/2008 @ 9:27pm
Stop cutting public education, fully fund a six period high school day, overhaul the terrible math and science programs and generally bring Washington State's schools into the late 20th century, at least.

Anything else we want to talk about on this topic will be completely academic if we let the current proposed budget cuts go through unchecked and don't raise our expectations.

Read the Basic Education Task Force's recommendations, just released last week:

Our kids can graduate with straight As, meeting every high school requirement, and not be eligible for admission to any Washington state university. This should be unacceptable to everyone.

by fredo on 12/17/2008 @ 9:59pm
The task force recommendations didn't carry a price tag. However, its hard to see how a big overhaul in education is going to be affordable with the state of Washington facing a $6B deficit in the next biennium.
The number 1 item funded by the state is already education. Educational funding will not escape budget cuts.

What can parents do now to get the most out of the provided education that is currently available? Here are some common sense recommendations: Make sure you provide a great home life, adequate nutrition and health care. Also make achievement in school an expectation. Set up a good homework routine and don't skip the parent teacher conferences. Model good social and workplace skills for your student. These recommendations will produce great results and won't cost the state a dime.

by jenyum on 12/17/2008 @ 10:22pm
None of that is enough to get your student into college out of a Washington State high school.

by NineInchNachos on 12/17/2008 @ 10:47pm
never let school interfere with your child's education.

first thing i'd do is remove any mandatory requirement for kids to attend school. Learning should be something young people seek out and WANT to do.

Paying children to attend school is the most retarded thing I've ever heard. If you want to pay children, they should get jobs in a munitions factory. Their little hands are good for polishing the insides of artillery shells.

secondly, sell every school bus in the city. Children should be riding the city buses. School buses aren't subject to clean air standards and only help to make children stupider with noxious exhaust fumes.

by NineInchNachos on 12/17/2008 @ 11:00pm
also it is important to teach your children that life just isn't fair. Bad things happen to good people for no reason whatsoever. And if you want to get ahead every effort should be made to game the system... and don't feel bad about stepping on little people to get to the top.

Teach children that the emptiness they feel in their hearts is there for a reason.

No mercy!

by fredo on 12/17/2008 @ 11:06pm
"None of that is enough to get your student into college out of a Washington State high school."

Jen-are you sure about that? I know plenty of college students, and even some graduates, who graduated from Washington State high schools.

I neglected to mention that students in some third world countries routinely exceed the achievements of American students with far less per/student funding than we provide. So money cannot be the only factor.

by jenyum on 12/18/2008 @ 7:51am
Not if you only meet the requirements for graduation, which are:

1. Language Arts 4.0
2. Mathematics 2.0
3. Science 2.0
4. Social Studies 2.5
5. Art 1.0
6. Health 1.0
7. Fitness (PE) 1.0
8. Occupational Education 1.0
9. Electives 8.5

Take a look at the minimum educational requirements at UWT:

4 credits
3 credits
Social studies
3 credits
Foreign language
2 credits
2 credits
Fine, visual or performing arts
0.5 credits
Academic electives
0.5 credits

And that's just the minimum courseload which doesn't address the college preparedness level of particular classes. Many students may need 4 years of math to get through Algebra II, the minimum level for admission. The UW accepts three years of Tacoma's "integrated math" curriculum but it doesn't necessarily put kids on a level playing field with others once they get in.

I've seen students turned down for admission for something as simple as 2.5 instead of three years of social studies.

If we base our definition of basic education off a standard that doesn't meet minimum college entry requirements, the state is not obligated to fully fund those requirements. Of course some students have parents who research these things and make sure their kids are ready, but obviously with the numbers falling right now that's not universal.

by fredo on 12/18/2008 @ 9:02am
I see, students who want to attend college need to take a few extra courses which the state isn't currently funding. I agree that this discrepency should be remedied.

Again, the legislature has the responsibility of setting priorities and budgeting accordingly. The task force already projected a 6-8 year phase in and that projection was made before the currently projected $6B shortfall was announced.

by judges19merescued on 12/18/2008 @ 12:52pm
My recourse has been to rent a small, low rent place, get the bulk of my wardrobe at K-Mart and Goodwill, drive and economy car, pray a lot for tuition assistance, and send my one kid to private school. Plan B would have been to engage in an aggressive pursuit of a good public education, but I am not entirely certain of what tactics I would need to employ, which would likely be additional efforts to those listed by Fredo. Any testimonials out there? Each Spring when registration time rolls around I wonder if we can make it for another year. We might need those suggestions. I imagine the same goes for other parents earning less than six figures.

by L.S.Erhardt on 12/19/2008 @ 12:34am
An undergrad degree will set you back easily $50-70K.
Most people take out student loans on that amount, and student loans are not wiped by bankruptcy.
There is no guarnatee you'll make even decent money without at least a masters'.... another $30-40K on top of that.
So you graduate with somewhere around $100,000 in debt.

OR go to a trade school and become something far more useful than a paper pusher: an electrician, a mechanic, a carpenter, etc...
Hell, a journeyman electrician will make $60K a year. How many people with bachelor's degrees make that?

Now who is smarter? The guy who racks up $100K in debt to get a job for $40,000/year or the guy who spends $10,000 for trade school and starts at $60,000 a year?

The answer seems pretty obvious to me.

by marumaruyopparai on 12/19/2008 @ 3:15am

Depends on what said person is going to school for. Not everbody is in it for the money, and alot of the people who are gifted in their field of study don't even have to pay. Scholarships are available for the uniquely academically gifted.

For those of us whose abilities don't shine quite as brightly, some are willing to wrack up the debt and settle for a position with a modest salary if it means doing or studying what they're passionate about. Plus, for those who are willing to serve in a program like the Peace Corp or who qualify for a position with Teach for America you can eliminate a large portion of your debt right out of the gate.

It's not at all a question of whose smarter, it's a question of where your interests and priorities lie. For some, occupational paths that lead through trade school are not only more appealing but offer a financially competitive alternative to a Bachelor's degree. But for others, that may not be where their passion lies, and to most, how the living is made is as important as how good the living is.

I earned a B.A. in Japanese to the tune of $30,000. It's financial utility is limited and that was never my motivation for it in the first place, just thought it was a real cool thing and don't regret the decision at all. Now I find myself back in school studying engineering for the financial utility, and I regret the decision every hour I spend studying this infernally boring discipline. There are simply more important things in life than money. i.e. personal fulfillment, etc.

by L.S.Erhardt on 12/19/2008 @ 12:18pm
If a BA in Japanese makes you happy, then more power to you. After all, it's your money you spent.

I'm making the point that a lower percentage of people with college degrees isn't some fundamentally bad thing. So what, Tacoma is a blue collar town, and we have lots of tradesmen... big deal. I'd rather live in a city with useful industries/jobs.
I'll take an electrician any day over a lawyer or accountant or stock broker.

But just because our city isn't full of highly-overpaid white collar jobs it doesn't mean we're somehow leading the trend towards "stupid" or anything.

by marumaruyopparai on 12/19/2008 @ 1:22pm
Ah, if that's your point then I agree with you fully. I was simply coming to the defense of those who risk their financial solvency for the pursuit of knowledge, that's the romantic in me.

I would also question anyone choosing to major in sociology or history or Japanese for the money.

The idea that one's trade somehow reflects their intelligence is a joke. There are many very intelligent blue collar workers and cash register jockies just like there are plenty of half-witted college grads (I know quite a few). And aside from that I have a great deal of respect for trade type position like plumbing and electrical. While pursuing a teaching certificate to supplement my B.A. I worked part time for the campus facilities crew as a gopher/assistant for pipefitters, electricians, plumbers, and mechanics. Lotta cool folks.

by jenyum on 12/19/2008 @ 2:09pm
Even to go to a trade school you have to pass courses like "Math for Industrial Professions" and English Comp. Electricians need to pass courses in electrical theory and math. I have heard that community colleges are finding kids aren't ready with the necessary math and science requirements to enter these programs.

On the flip side, some really motivated kids are taking community college courses while in high school and graduating with their AA. But there are still many who are left floundering.

I'd never dispute the value of an education in a trade, as an over-degreed, underemployed person that would just be silly :)