I join the legions of Republicans who must be wondering why their politicians are actively branding the party as anti-education. I don’t mean anti-education bureaucracy, as in “let’s get rid of the Department of Education.”
I mean anti-schooling, anti-learning.
The GOP-controlled legislature, with Gov. Pat McCrory’s approval, has cut school funding and demonized teachers. It gave most teachers a raise, but only after months of protests outside the legislative building.
It didn’t just squeeze the K-12 system. Led by Gov. McCrory, it cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s acclaimed university system.
He started the campaign soon after he took office. “If you want to take gender studies that’s fine. Go to a private school, and take it. But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.”
He went further last week: “Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday said that North Carolina needs fewer journalists and lawyers and more truck drivers and technical workers as he unveiled his ’1,000 in 100′ work force development initiative in Greensboro as part of a three-city tour.”
According to the Triad Business Journal, McCrory said: “We’ve frankly got enough psychologists and sociologists and political science majors and journalists. With all due respect to journalism, we’ve got enough. We have way too many.”
This post is not against truck drivers and other blue-collar trades. They perform an important role in the economy. But why not just promote the need for people in those jobs? Why denigrate those may want to do something else? Why not promote all of the educational opportunities the state has to offer?
Here is another informed voice. Google’s former CEO, Eric Schmidt, makes the case that the key to success in modern business is hiring “smart creatives.”
From the New York Times: “Smart creatives, the authors write, are impatient, outspoken risk-takers who are easily bored and change jobs frequently. They are intellectually versatile, typically ‘combining technical depth with business savvy and creative flair,’ the authors note.”
I suspect the governor, if asked, would agree with Schmidt. I suspect he would say we need both truck drivers and “smart creatives.” (Perhaps some truck drivers are smart creatives.) Maybe.
Of course, McCrory’s public words don’t encourage smart creatives. He’s basically saying, “If you want to pursue that kind of thing, great. We don’t need that and won’t support you.”
In that atmosphere, is North Carolina the sort of place you want to locate your business? That should give the state’s leaders — people who say that jobs and economic development are their top priorities — something to think about.
It makes people — even average thinkers like me — wonder why the state’s leadership is embracing the idea that higher education in the liberal arts is bad. It’s divisive and offensive to those who see the value in a college education.
And it’s bad for business.