Thanks for this wonderful article. With respect to Ursula Burns, she is not completely correct. I believe that the systems needs to be improved, but the system is not broken. Every time there seems to be a problem, the simplest thing to do is to blame the system. There are many factors that makes up the system. One of them is the family component. I believe this is a major contributing problem to our educational system. More learning takes place outside of the classroom than inside of the classroom (depending on the situation). Parents need to attend PTA meetings, communicate with their children teachers, and provide a strong family structure for their children. I am sure that Ursula Burns had a strong family background, and someone encouraged her to set high standards and to believe in herself. Do all children have that same family environment today? In terms of students going to join Wall Street firms, that is an individual decision; and the cost of living can be a contributing factor to that reason. Some students might make that decision to join Wall Street to support their parents or other family members. I agree with many of the things that Urula Burns shared within this article, but we also have to understand and deal with life issues. The American Dream is alive and well. But we cannot point to one item as the problem. In order for the educational system to improve, we must take a team effort approach and involve the community, the family, and the school system.
I guess the overall problem can be blamed on the system like she said. I personally feel derivatives trading works against a nation's development. Huge cash is being poured into these instruments instead of into "real" investment projects.
I agree huge sums of money can be made "easily" from these derivatives, but they produce nothing else except cash.
America needs to go back pursuing more of tangible projects and research to sustain its leadership in information and industry
Being a non-American, the comments looks inspiring. In Asia, competition is keen in schools and students are forced to take in lots of subjects and they spend all their time studying. Guess what the result is? Lots of grad students are blamed to be not creative by hi-tech firms! There are also many Asian students go to further their study in American. I have friends who told me that many 1st year engineering students who come from Asia, especially from China or Taiwan, are labelled to be "high-markers" as these guys have already learnt all the math and science in their high school. However, how many grad students finally get high marks at the end are still those Asian? The numbers go down. Fewer PhD in engineering and science are Asian then, unless they were brought up in American rather than coming to study after 18. That tells that even though the American education system may not be good enough, it still can inspire creativity which is essential to engineering and science stream. Asian education system is even worse!
Anyway, I agree that engineers should be paid higher!
There seem to be two questions here: a) what are the employment prospects for engineering/technical graduates? and b) what is wrong with the K-12 education system? To question a, some responders have pointed out that Xerox is moving design and technical jobs overseas. I recently retired from Honeywell, and the CEO of Honeywell is similarly "on a mission" to move all design work to India or the Czech Republic. Most technical graduates are intelligent enough to see that Wall Street values the technical education, while at least the large multi-national corporations don't. There appears to be a longer employment future for technical graduates in the financial companies, whereas in the traditional technical employers, there seems to be a future of wondering "if this Friday is the day my job is exported".
As to question b, I recently saw a video of a sixteen year old male student confronting his 64 year old female teacher in such a manner that she felt enough fear in the situation that she defended herself by punching the student. The boy was at least a head taller than the teacher, and was screaming obscenities at the teacher. The event just symbolizes one problem with the K-12 education system. As long as teachers are under assault in the classroom, no teaching of any kind will occur. Additionally, as long as students feel that they can behave that way toward teachers, no teaching will occur. As long as students are not taught at home to respect their teachers, no teaching will occur. If education is not a priority for the parents (and that priority is not emphasized at home to the student by the parent) the child won't be a student.
My $0.02 worth.
I would respect this lady for being part of the organization for 30 years. Probably she would have seen all the levels of employees on her way to the head of the company. So, I definitely respect her opinions.
Rick, I am not sure what the answer is. During the 60s and 70's (when we were working hard to get to the moon) there was a period when it was decidedly cool to excel in school. It is still cool in some private schools. It would be easy to blame the shift away from it on Hollywood and their senseless sitcoms, films, TV series, etc. They definitely played a role, which has been very negative. But I believe that they just caught a shift in our society which was probably best characterized by the "greed is good" statement of the Gecco character in the movie Wall street. Starting with the Reagan presidency (or thereabouts) our values as a society have shifted strongly toward money as the ONLY measure of success and happiness. If creation (in the human, e.g. engineering, sense) is not something that young people believe can give you satisfaction and give your life meaning professionally then why would anyone take the trouble to get good in math and sciences in high school or go to an engineering college, which is not only expensive but also requires very hard work. If the ONLY goal is maximizing money then it is very logical that all the smart kids want to go into sales and/or Wall street, or strive to become football or NBA stars. There is nothing wrong with these professions, except that they do not create value for society. Anyway, this became way too long, but the short end of it is that I do not think the K-12 problem can be solved without solving a number of much more fundamental issues/problems in our society today. I hope that we will find a solution, otherwise we will become just another doomed once great society.
Sure, I can see that the education system problems could be mostly an effect rather than a cause of the fall of tech. It's just that during the recovery periods, cost-cutting and outsourcing continued, and so there was/is still a bad view of tech careers, and the educational problems stayed like a bad first impression.
I guess most comments either skip or just skim over what is essentially a theological debate. Do we want to continue this in the car or in the jaihouse with the cops? - Courtesy:Pulp Fiction.
Ms Burns, I believe, is a mechanical engineer by schooling and now heading Xerox. Will Xerox hire such a person NOW? She WAS fine being a mechanical engineer and becoming head of Xerox, but Xerox is NOT FINE NOW giving opportunities to 'other stream' people. So she wants 'engineers' working in software algorithms, programming etc. This is why US is tottering! I dont think K-12 has anything to do with it. She should go and question children and parents of children on what they choose to do with their future, instead of blaming K-12, G-5 etc.