Tuesday, February 18, 2014
The "Perfect Storm"
The storm as conveyed by the author paints a convergence of 3 major points (divergent skill distribution, changing economy and demographic trends) causing some sort of injury or perhaps death to the "American Dream", causing inequality in wages and wealth, as well as social and political polarization. A fair shake at "future prosperity" is something the USA is known for- the land for opportunists, entrepreneurs and dreamers. There are SO many factors however, that interfere with achieving prosperity in America, but if I had to chose one topic that stood out in this article, it's the piece on adult literacy from the NLSY data in determining who in the long run earns a B.A./B.S. or higher. Being enrolled in READ 602, I'm currently tasked with finding an adult learner who has literacy issues (my learner has problems with reading/spelling). He would probably be somewhere in the middle of the pack concerning the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) data, which makes since seeing as only 15% of those in the 6th decile of basic academic skills earned a bachelor's or higher compared to 76% in the top or 10th decile and 2% in the lowest. This relationship between basic academic skills and bachelor's attainment holds true regardless of gender, race or ethnic background. This is troubling news to me, and an obvious problem here is the divide that's being created due to lack of basic academic skills. This divide can be partly explained by the fact that those who are in the 10th decile are earning significantly more than those in the 6th and drastically more than those in the 1st. The size of the gap (according to the NLSY data) in mean annual earnings between high school (12 or less total years of school) and college graduates (23-30 year olds, 16 or more years of school total) was stunning. College grads earned 58% more in 1979, and in 2001- the gap had widened to 81%! Although a tad old, I certainly see this data as reason for fast track GED programs and a bigger push for adult literacy programs to help adult learners through basic academic skills with the ultimate outcome being a college degree.