Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lucrative majors and governor prep

Gov. Pat McCrory's comments about getting public universities to focus on majors that provide the best job prospects has me wondering:  Will he discourage students from becoming teachers?

N.C. education majors with a bachelor's degree averaged an estimated $36,245 a year,  well under the average earnings for grads who got two-year degrees in health or STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields,  according to a recent national analysis of the economic benefits of college degrees.  If you want young people to get a lot of earning power for their tuition bucks,  it looks like you need to warn them off teaching  --  or make the profession pay better.

In fact,  we'll probably hear more about proposals to change the way universities prepare teachers and to revise the way teachers are paid.  But whether there will be more money in the pot remains to be seen.

McCrory's remarks about philosophy majors and gender studies also got me wondering what's the best major if you're aiming for the governor's mansion.  Turns out that's hard to say.  Here are the academic credentials of North Carolina's last five governors.

McCrory:  Education and political science degree from Catawba College, a private, church-affiliated liberal arts school in Salisbury.

Bev Perdue:  Bachelor's in history  (University of Kentucky),  master's in community college administration,  doctorate in education administration (both University of Florida).

Mike Easley:  Undergraduate degree in political science from UNC Chapel Hill,  law degree from N.C. Central.

Jim Hunt:  Bachelor's and master's degrees in agriculture-related fields from N.C. State,  law degree from Chapel Hill.

Jim Martin:  Bachelor of science from Davidson College,  doctorate in chemistry from Princeton.


Anonymous said...

Illustrated version of a sliding scale of mediocrity and the Peter Principle.

Ettolrahc said...

Some of the most successful Teachers are those who had a successful career in business and went into Teaching.

But if we only need certain kinds of people teaching, we need to write rules and the like to constrict it.

On and note Mike Easley's poly sci, this itself should be telling on the surface.

Anonymous said...

The current Republican establishment does not value teachers. One of our Speaker's supporters told me ( in his presence on Facebook) that if I did not like how they were treating teachers to " go get a REAL job". Tillis never responded though he saw it. Tillis and McCrory have the same misguided notions about teachers - it is vindictive and punitive. I never voted for a Democrat for governor in my entire life until this last election. I don't think the general public knows how much this leadership despises the people who care for their children each day.

Anonymous said...

Anon said: The current Republican establishment does not value teachers.

And the Democrats who ran this state the past 100 years DID value teachers?

Give me a break.

Stay away from the liberal Kool Aid. It contains a virus that makes the person blame Republicans for their ills in life, no matter what those ills are.

Our "president" and his minions are still blaming Republicans for their failure to govern and continued downward spiral of America.

Teachers are no different or anymore special than any other person who gets up everyday and goes to their job to provide for their family.

Anonymous said...

"Teachers are no different or anymore special than any other person who gets up everyday and goes to their job to provide for their family.


Shamash said...

Part of our current problem is our inability to attract THE BEST into teaching.

Unfortunately, due to it's history as "women's work", teaching hasn't paid well and isn't very high status.

(Except for "da coach", of course...)

Change THAT situation and we might have something.

But, then we have to worry about getting teachers who "look like" their students today, so simply hiring the best students as teachers (without some "affirmative action") probably won't fly.

As for the "liberal arts" vs. technical paths, well, that just depends.

Math is actually a liberal art.

At least it was when and where I studied it.

In fact, my professors promised me there were NO practical applications for what I was learning.

However, since, at that time, people were hiring math majors as computer programmers, I had a few job offers when I graduated back in the late, late 1970's.

Before that time, many companies hired English, Philosophy and other majors such as History as computer programmers.

Employers that I interviewed with said that those were the people with the kinds of analytical and organizational skills needed to understand computer programming, but that they were willing to try the math majors as well.

Computer science majors were practically non-existent and doing other things anyway.

But, not today.

We only think "technical" people with "technical" degrees can do this type work.

Well, where do the ideas of WHAT TO DO with the computers come from?

We still need creative and knowledgeable people in ALL areas, not just technicians with limited areas of expertise.

Even in computer technology.

As it happened, my liberal arts math background was VERY USEFUL about 10 years after I got my degree.

Because by that time, someone developed a use for all that worthless abstract math I learned.

The most obvious one being relational databases.

So my "pure" math background actually gave he another advantage over the pure technology masters who, of course, were ONLY MASTERS of YESTERDAYS TECHNOLOGY.

No one can see the future, so don't put all your hopes into learning today's technology.

And, based on my life experiences, the two groups you can LEAST trust to understand what the future holds are educators and politicians.

Skylark Thibedeau said...

Anonymous said...
Anon said: The current Republican establishment does not value teachers

Probably when you mention the word Teacher to McCrory, an image of "Doctor" Vilma Leake pops into his head. Sure is easy to get a Doctorate in North Carolina.

Anonymous said...

The best teachers my daughter's had were those fresh from college.

The best lecturers were those who had transferred into teaching from other professions.

Society no longer wants teachers only lecturers to regurgitate the dogma of the simple majority. Young earth, global warming, the list goes on.

Thus, the inescapable conclusion teaching should not be a publicly supported degree in the UNC system.

Anonymous said...

The real problem is how did Mike Easley graduate and become not only Atty Gen, but Gov of this state? He can hardly read, has a tough time with ethics, and cannot remember details when it comes to committing felonies. If he is any representatived of the university system, then shut it down.
Same goes for Perdue.

Shamash said...

Part of the teachers credibility problem is that for a long time it was seen as "easy" and "women's work".

That stigma is hard to overcome.

Finland did it.

But Finland is a small, cold country full of "ice people" who have a lot of "future time orientation".

And we'll be having NONE of that kind of culture in the USA.

Not with all the "sun people" we have here now, picking all the low-hanging fruit.

So, we're stuck with mediocrity.

But it makes certain people happy.

In fact, they'd like to see even more mediocrity in our schools so no child gets left behind.

And it also helps keep our social structure in place because we don't want the folks on the bottom getting too smart anyway.

We need to assimilate into the cultures south of our border.

After all, they will soon be the majority, anyway.

So, let's be more like Mexico, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic (gawd knows Haiti is NO ONE's ideal, not even for sun people...)

Everyone should be out enjoying the sun and picking wild fruit as intended.

When the bad weather comes we can always get foreign aid from Finland.

Unknown said...

Well done, Ann. I wondered the same thing. And with teachers fellows gone, what message does that send. Thanks for your points.

PT said...

Well, I guess our family has little value for NC. I have one daughter who teaches Special Ed. in middle school and another daughter at ECU studying Musical Theatre. I guess doing what you love and loving what you do don't enter into this rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

What does one expect from a politician (Pat) with no children or idea of what goes on in education world? Remember when CMS had issue while he was mayor his response always was its a CMS/County Issue. Pat is so far out of his league its incredible with comment like that. He will be a one term govenator and CHarlotte region will have a black eye for it.

Anonymous said...

NC Republican conservative Gov Pat McCrory is definitely doing the job his constituents elected him to do with excellent comments like this.

He is 100% on the money. Hurray for him and its great to have a Republican controlled capital.

Teaching sucks in todays sorry pc world anyway where underpaid teachers are forced to pass flunkies or suffer the consequences by administrations and school boards.

Why were there no problems like these before the pc age? Why are teachers suddenly getting all the blame and the bad poor students now innocent victims? What a crock.

Revamp the whole system to save billions and increase teacher salaries. Encourage trouble makers druggies, drunks, and flukies to drop out at double or triple the rate they do now. The more the better. Same for college.

Pass laws to make public education non-manadatory.

Develop 2 year high school trade programs and lower the graduation age to 16 after 2 years of these trade schools so students will have a real trade profession to earn a living for life.

End athletic scholarships in college to get scams out of the system wasting billions of tax dollars.

Encourage minor league system development for the NFL and NBA who both are using colleges and taxpayer for billions to enable pro sports scammers along with the NCAA.
End the dastardly NCAA enablement one year rule.

Why is public education mandatory anyway outside of grade school? Change the law. Basic reading writing and reading education is all non-academic students need anyway.

Anonymous said...

As a UNC grad, I can tell you firsthand there are a multitude of ridiculous Liberal Arts classes available (and I'm sure that's the case at most state institutions) to fill your schedule, if you so choose to follow that path. Anthropology, Philosophy and Drama classes certainly played no part in the job I have now. Amusing to take at the time, but worthless in the overall horrid business climate we are in, and will be in for a LONG time to come considering the neverending anti-business Obama edicts and anti-capitalism mentality.

I agree with McCrory that there should be less focus on the majority of Liberal Arts classes in state schools. There should be more focus on Science, Business, Languages and yes, teaching. This country is in dire need of technical, doctoral and teaching skills that will allow us to keep up with other countries who are passing us by. Although why anyone would want to become a doctor these days with the Orwellian Obamacare rules kicking in is beyond me -- just more reason we are depending on graduates from other countries to fill our medical practices. Ask your doctor next time you see him/her how they will be affected by these new rules.

To quote our illustrious (ha) President, "elections have consequences." Democrats have had their way in this state for FAR too long, and it's time spending restraints and common sense finally arrived for this state's abused taxpayers. Funny how McCrory has only been in an office a few weeks and the Observer has already run more negative articles about him than they did for their precious predecessor in her whole 4 years. Typical.

Also, to go along with the sports comment above, I am continually amazed at the emphasis sports in general (high school, college, pro) is placed above all else in this country. Look at the ridiculous hype the Super Bowl is generating for the last 2 weeks. Think of all the money people are spending on PSL's, game tickets, booze, parking spaces, propping up Jerry Richardson's stadium needs, blah blah blah -- the list is neverending. Think of all the issues that could be solved in this country with the wasted money, time and efforts that people place on SPORTS. As a reformed sports addict myself, I have to say there is nothing more ridiculous to me than seeing an overweight middle-aged man wearing a Steve Smith jersey. I know I'm in the minority around here when I say let the Panthers leave if they feel so inclined, I would not miss a thing about them. Maybe some kids would get a little extra time with their parents and money would be spent on more important things than Cam Newton's salary and Jerry Richardson's ego. Our priorities in this country are extremely confused.

Anonymous said...

Has no one been paying attention to what has happened to this country? To recalibrate what the public pays for in public college education is way overdue. Don't worry libs, your gut courses won't end. Thank you Pat M. for highlighting this issue. There is a huge shortage of skilled workers while many educated in non skill areas are jobless.

Anonymous said...

Remember a learned skill can always be off-shored.

Learn how to think and when that must-have skill McCrory told you was going to save America is sent to Asia you will have something fall back on.

Anonymous said...

And after reading comments...sadly I see the war on teachers continues- the discrediting and misinformation continues. Easy to comment on what you THINK when you are not on the inside to KNOW. God bless our professional, competent, and dedicated teachers who have to serve an ungrateful and hostile public.Thanks God most of those are the vocal minority.

Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Probably when you mention the word Teacher to McCrory, an image of "Doctor" Vilma Leake pops into his head. Sure is easy to get a Doctorate in North Carolina.

Read more here:

Hey Skylark - I'm sure you won't mind posting YOUR profession.... chances are I know someone who does it poorly. I'd like the same opportunity to let you know how bad you and your profession really are because that person I know is a nutball. Fair, right? Sheesh!

Shamash said...

It's almost comical, but I always like to go back to these tired old cliches when life is getting me down (and the Super Bowl season looms).

I found this while Googling the Roman Colosseum (just for some good pre-game gladiatorial action):


Antagonism between the Senate and the Emperor

Decline in Morals

Political Corruption and the Praetorian Guard

Fast expansion of the Empire

Constant Wars and Heavy Military Spending

Barbarian Knowledge of Roman Military Tactics

Failing Economy

Unemployment of the Working Classes (The Plebs)

The 'Mob' and the cost of the 'Games'

Decline in Ethics and Values

Slave Labor

Natural Disasters



So, What are we missing?

For the life of me, I can't think of a thing.

Oh, yeah, maybe "slave labor".

Or maybe not...

But I'm sure there are at least 200other reasons Rome fell.

Not that we need to think about those things today.

Only someone with a liberal arts degree would care anyway.

Party on, Garth...

Anonymous said...

I think our thinking can be offshored, too.

We're doing it all the time.

In fact, the world can do quite well without our intellectual input NOW (except for weapons, of course).

And don't be surprised to find that the higher institutes of learning are in Asian countries by the last half of this century.

After all, this isn't the 1950's anymore.

The rest of the world has caught up with us in many ways.

Jeff Wise said...

If you think the purpose of public education is to be trained for a job, then we've got some problems.

To think college is a job factory is selling the country and our people short.

Colleges should offer classes in just about everything. It should be a free market, if not enough people take particular classes, those classes get cut - pretty simple.

This is already starting to happen with the Massive Open Online Courses that are proliferating right now. So even without the Governor's pandering comments, higher education is undergoing major changes to its structure.

But to think that college is solely about focusing on job skills is so incredibly short-sighted and sad, not to mention boring. Talk about taking a sledgehammer to a nail.

Anonymous said...

If being a teacher paid at least 45k I would take a 66% pay cut to do it - but right now I can't live on 32k. I would like to give something back to the community by being a teacher but I can't live on 32k

Shamash said...

Hey Jeff, I agree.

How about that...

Not just for the liberal arts, but for "pure" science as well.

It seems that we are willing to give this up, though, to the Europeans and Asians as we did with the Supercollider project.

CERN, Cern, cern....

People tend to forget, though, that sometimes the spinoffs from "pure" research are often practical.

Like "The Web" which was basically born at CERN.

Sometimes it pays to let smart people play...

Anon 1:35,

I worked in China as a teacher for less than 32K.

But, of course, I had a lot of "status" to make up for it...

I don't think I'd survive my first review in this politically correct environment, though.

Even if I just taught math.

I'm sure I'd manage to do something "culturally insensitive" using Arabic numerals.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks ANN for bringing up the point I made in the last Blog.

"Why would anyone teach someone to become a teacher"

What about the teacher leaving to become a truck driver?


Jeff Wise said...


Ha - I bet we agree on a lot more than we might think off the top of our heads.

But you had to bring up CERN....pretty much every time I read an article about some intriguing find or result they got, I think about what might have been here in the US, if only we had made the investment.

Missouri said...

I fail to see the sense in allowing a person to attend college, come out with a ton of debt and be unable to get a job that could ever pay back that debt. This is the next monetary disaster in this country. This is the next group you'd hope would buy homes that would help energize this economy but they will be unable to qualify.

Anonymous said...

In the last dozen years or more, the federal government, liberal elitists, newspaper editorial boards, community organizers and on and on have fought for pushing our public education system to its lowest common denominator for the sake of the "moral" justice that any achievement gap is to be eliminated.

The problem however as they have pushed out the sciences, the social studies, etc. where it was commonly believed one race was better than the other, the 3 R's still could not be perverted for this political correctness purpose. Thus overall educational sophistication of the middle class white children has decreased. The salvation for America's greatness lays with the education of children outside of America's public schools until the federal government is purged from its unconstitutional intrusion.

Jeff Wise said...


I fail to see the sense in dictating what free citizens are allowed to study in colleges they choose to attend. But I don't fail to see the irony of so-called limited or small government cheerleaders turning around and telling students what classes they can and cannot take.

If we want to promote self-responsibility with our students why in the world would we take big decisions like higher education out of their hands?

Anonymous said...

Morrison and the BOE


Shamash said...

Missouri and Jeff,

Don't you guys think that some of those bogus "for profit" schools out there are just as big of a drain on our society?

After all, they get loans, too, and don't always prepare people for "real world" jobs, either.

I think I could make an argument for not letting young people choose those schools.

People used to joke about getting their degrees off matchbook covers.

I don't see many of these "for-profit" school degrees as any better.

There are other ways they can learn responsibility besides going into excessive debt to get a worthless degree.

Jeff Wise said...

I agree that a lot of the for-profit colleges have caused troubles in the student loan realm. And I also think many non-profit colleges and universities (private and public) are rather overpriced.

The Davidson model where no student graduates indebted in something I hope spreads much wider in the coming years.

To that end, I don't consider any degree to be worthless, but I'll agree that students shouldn't go into huge debt just to obtain the degree they want.

A high school diploma should require at least 2 semesters in practical economics and finance - call it financial literacy.

Anonymous said...

Historically speaking, people who chose to become teachers generally fall into one of two categories:

1. First person in their family to attend college.

2. Have a parent/grandparent who was a school teacher or a school administrator.

Teaching used to be considered a highly respectable field of endeavor for families sending their first child off to college. I think this is far less true today.

As with military service, teaching also tends to run in families. I think this is becoming far less common also.

I don't know who is choosing to major in education today but I suspect the general profile is different then previous generations. Based on the severe shortage of African-American teachers, it appears young African-Americans aren't choosing to major in education.


I agree that the reason teachers aren't paid well is due to the fact that teaching has historically been a female profession.

* Interesting historical note; school systems used to prohibit women from teaching once they became pregnant. My grandmother, who was a school teacher, was born when women weren't allowed to vote. My grandmother would have been allowed to teach North Carolina's last 5 governors but she would have have been legally prohibited from voting for any of them.

However, I vehemently disagree that "THE BEST" aren't choosing to become teachers anymore. At age 50, I'm sitting in classes with remarkably capable, intelligent, passionate and talented young people who want to become K-5 teachers. They tend to be idealistic to the point I often think of them as lambs being lead to the slaughterhouse but to suggest they aren't fully capable of teaching future generations of American children is ludicrous. How many chose to STAY in the teaching profession after they've survived their first 1 - 5 years on the job is another story.


Anonymous said...

You know what?

God help us all when America's higher-education system reaches a point where the average 20-year-old can't take Persian tile making while majoring in business and stops believing they can save the world teaching 3rd grade.

Alicia Durand

Anonymous said...


Have you found a real job yet?

You are a FLAKE

Anonymous said...

My grandmother's flakey generation (with a 2-year college degree) taught the generation that landed on the moon. My great-grandmother taught the generation before this.

Call me flakey!


Anonymous said...

Compare and Contrast:

Did you know that no two snowflakes are the same? Isn't life wonderful?!

*(artistically "gifted"! according to the state of CT)

Anonymous said...

My great-GREAT grandmother: Leora Shoemaker

Leora attended the Preparatory School of Swarthmore College 1877 - 1880 and Wertchester Normal School (now Westchester University of PA). She was "a teacher of much success" before marriage in 1883.

Leora Shoemaker was a good Republican.


Anonymous said...


Lenora's HUSBAND (MR. Shoemaker) was a good Republican. Lenora was deemed too flakey to vote.


Anonymous said...

Leora. Not Lenora. My great-great grandmother was Leora. She could teach but she wasn't allowed to vote.

Anonymous said...

The United States of America decided my great-great grandmother was "highly qualified" to teach but way too flakey to vote.

On behalf of my great-great grandmother, I would like to thank CMS for choosing 22 "highly qualified" people (who have never taught a day in their lives) to lead the system's latest and greatest task-foreces because teachers are WAY too special to be able to think, speak, or lead for themselves.


Anonymous said...

Some products are being designed right now in India and China because we don't have enough engineers in the USA. Parts are being machined today in China and South Korea because we don't have enough people with the math and comprehension skills to do the machining here in the USA. In "The World is Flat" the author points out that for every 1 engineer we graduate 10 lawyers & in China for every lawyer they graduate 10 engineers. We need people with all skill levels, but gosh people, it doesn't mean you hate teachers to point out we are drastically out of balance and it is hurting our worldwide competitiveness.

Anonymous said...

We seem to have enough $ to pay football coaches.