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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Do Welders Make More Than Philosophers?

Early in the Fox Business Network debate, Marco Rubio took a strong stand in favor of vocational education. "For the life of me I don't know why we stigmatize vocational education," he said. "Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders than philosophers."
So begins a complete debunking of this claim by Matthew Yglesias, who just happens to have been a student of mine at Harvard. Read the rest here. It's a corrective that's especially welcome to those of us who have to have the same conversation, over and over, with budding philosophy concentrators: How do you tell your parents?

Of course, as Yglesias says, that doesn't mean we should stigmatize vocational education. For many people, it's clearly the right choice. And, to be honest, I'm not sure many people do stigmatize vocational education. I happen to live very close to Blue Hills Regional Technical School, a vocational high school that serves several of the surrounding towns. (Avon, Braintree, Canton, Dedham, Holbrook, Milton, Norwood, Randolph and Westwood.) My understanding is that there are almost always more applicants than there are slots. And the school is widely respected in the area. Indeed, Blue Hills students scored higher than the state average on all three recent MCAS examinations.