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EdTech: Barbershop Quartet

The truth is spoken here…

While waiting for a haircut the other day I overheard my barber and a customer make an amazing comment. They were comparing the oil spill in the Gulf with the old days in Staten Island. They said, basically, “What’s the big deal? We had oil slicks on the beaches when we were kids.” Now, of course, I didn’t say a word, even when they said it was abnormally hot out for June. On one hand I guess there might be climate change occurring, but on the other, the “Disaster in the Gulf” is just media hype. No biggie; just a little bit of oil. Amazing how time blurs the memory.


What does this have to do with education? You guessed it—simple. Memories become blurred over time. Everybody thinks their childhood was the toughest, that today’s youth are just complainers. To a point I agree: Every generation has had it tougher than the current one. Not so true today. If you don’t believe that, then compare for a second, point for point.

Prices 1970 2010 Percent Increase

Gas                                30¢                            $3.00                                    1000
Milk                               55¢                            $3.00                                      600
Cigarettes                   75¢                            $10.00                                  1000
Tuition                        $800                         $5000                                    600
Music                          $1.95                         $16.95                                    1000
House                  $18,000.00             $450,000.00                           2500
Home Taxes       $1,500.00               $15,000.00                              1000

Salary                   $10,000.00                 $50,000.00                           500

If you notice, the salaries are the lowest percentage increases on the chart. That obviously means what most young people could hope to start earning is almost, on average, half of the buying power from what we started with in 1970. So after prodding and telling them they would have a better life if they worked hard and did well in school, they would be better off than we are today.

Well what happened? Today, the workforce is competing on a global level. The workers in other countries will do the same job for one-tenth the price of what is charged here. I guess we shouldn’t have cleaned our plates and sent all that food overseas. They got strong!

The real reason is we never moved forward in our economic structure. We never changed economic roles. We are holding on to products and production cycles that have moved along. We needed to adjust our economic structure to meet these new jobs. We held on to the oil economy and didn’t progress.

More articles filed under Columns,Long Island Education

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