Monday, September 28, 2015

On Education and the Wealth Gap

If this seems a bit different than my average post, it's because it's for a class... Sorry for breaking the fourth wall (then again, I usually do that. I just never talk about why I blog. Semi-related: I don't think I've ever blogged specifically for a class.).

Anyway, I recently read an article by John Marsh in my English book about access to higher education and its relation to poverty. Interesting topic, in my opinion, but that's perhaps because I'm directly impacted by the whole higher education discussion, and I've thought a lot about income inequality.

Basically the argument is that access to programs to help boost enrollment/education don't do anything in the grand scheme of fighting poverty and income inequality. He argues that programs like his, the Odyssey Project, which are aimed at getting gen eds out of the way and giving people who wouldn't otherwise have access to higher education get a jump start, are ineffective.

I have no personal experience with such projects, so I researched the link between education levels in general with income inequality. The goal was to settle it, because frankly I thought Marsh's argument was pretty solid - education guarantees nothing except education. We'd like to think that the fairy tale of keep-up-with-education-go-fight-win is true. Unfortunately the data shows that just isn't true. Education, per the studies I researched [side note: if you're really curious, I found three studies that I used for these conclusions: one by Andreas Bergh, and Günther Fink, one by Ronald H. Carlson, and Christopher S. McChesney, and then one by the amazingly named duo of  Péter Földvári, and Bas van Leeuwen.] doesn't guarantee income increases beyond the standard of living/average wage earning. In other words, that bachelor's diploma is a life raft in the world of wages and anything below that is just bobbing in the open water.

The researchers found that the higher the education, the higher the wage (duh) but what it proved wasn't the case was that education causes any real upward mobility, just a promise of stability.

I point that out for two reasons: 1) it's important for the argument and 2) I'll be able to sleep tonight knowing that this expensive college adventure is worth something more income wise than the Carlynton High School diploma collecting dust on my mantle at home.

The research is solid, and found that the wage gap is a thing (duh), it's widening (duh, just ask the Occupy people circa 2012), and education cannot be considered a cure for income inequality. The one study concerned itself mainly with enrollment figures and public funding. In other words, aid programs not unlike Marsh's Odyssey Project but more tax based, did not boost enrollment. In other words, these programs are ineffective at getting people in the door, let alone having them succeed in their bachelor's, which as previously established, doesn't guarantee much of anything past an education.

Education is important, and knowledge (especially applicable knowledge) is extremely important but it isn't the cure for the financial social ills of the world. I want to say this much though, it could be used as an aid in combating a major social ill of the world: mass ignorance and stupidity. 

I didn't want to depress you entirely, but I wanted to impress this much: education shouldn't be used as a mass cure for poverty. It's a fairy tale that someone somewhere started to get policies changed to force people into education without questioning it. I say we need to question education, and the education system in general, but I've said that for years. I just ask that you not consider it a cure for poverty, because it isn't.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

On First Reference: To Write Home About

I'm beginning to understand a phrase I use sometimes: "nothing to write home about." It turns out I've been misusing it all these years.

I used to use the phrase to mean nothing notable had happened. While this is still true, it's not entirely true. Since moving on campus, I've noticed that my reports back home have to be short. As a journalism major, I've learned how to identify key figures in a story and give minimal background. These combine, and I find I end up cutting people out because first reference requires background.

As a result, there are a lot of amazing people who live on my floor and such that I interact on a daily basis with that I can't reference to other people without a lengthy explanation. I find that the best I can do is for each person give two adjectives to describe them best. Several come to mind: Talented, Creative, Beautiful in Every Way, Knightly, Business-Savvy, and the list goes on.

Anyway, these are people I absolutely love having in my life but without a lengthy explanation couldn't rightly explain who they were. So to anyone concerned about me, yes I have made friends.

Things move extremely fast here, mainly because (though I jokingly said this in high school) I actually live here. I can meet with people on the same day I first contact them, and have (Mondays are famous for this) several meetings in a day.

THE CLUB, an initiative where I am part of the development team, is going pretty well.

I have a show with two other people on WPPJ (670AM on campus, or or on the TuneIn App). The concept is called Sixty-Forty, and it consists of 60% music and 40% talk. And you can call in if you're crazy enough. Anyway, it airs every Friday from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. and you should totally listen.

I am a staff writer with The Globe and as I talked about in my last post here I'm really loving working for them. Having the title "Staff Writer" is pretty awesome, even if it was a typo in the last edition.

I am still loving working for the Post-Gazette, which has become a more entertaining venture than I figured. I work 9 p.m. - midnight on Fridays (which explains why I'm still up to a degree). Who appears in the cube across from me but my Journalism 150 (Journalistic Writing and Editing) professor. He apparently does this just for fun, to keep his foot in the door, and I got to talking to him during a lull about his background. He started at a community newspaper and at one point was working at USA Today before starting his own newspaper. A rather dumb business fluke caused the downfall of the paper, so now he teaches.

As we're waiting for the T to come, who appears behind us but my Journalism 101 professor - the reason I have the job. There I was, surrounded by faculty working for the same institution, and by this I mean the Post-Gazette, not Point Park. Which, I might add, is probably the best decision I've made probably ever. Let's see where this goes.

This has been a wild ride so far, and I'm so excited to just keep doing it all, to just keep living in the end. Ride along, will you?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Let's Make Mistakes for a While

So this is a very overdue life update. Like most overdue things, it's going to be frantically thrown together and sorta clunkily large. Clunkily is not a word.

Let's start in order. I'm involved with the Globe, which is the campus newspaper. I've written 4 pieces (three have been published - each on the front page - and I'm waiting for Wednesday to roll around for the most recent piece) for them and I'm finding I'm not too terrible at this writing thing. Just not here. If you want to read everything in order from the beginning (a piece on USG - before I joined USG), look here:

I was elected to the United Student Government here as the freshman representative for the school of communication, and I serve on the communication committee headed by my RE Emily (who is also USG's Press Secretary). Our first meeting? Budgets. Just my luck. USG is full of great people, and I can tell we are going to make positive changes in the PPU community.

I'm working with my friends Amber and Elise on a weekly radio show that debuts this coming Friday (9/25) on WPPJ. We're calling it Sixty Forty, because it's going to be 60% music and 40% not music. It's like half and half but with more music. Want to hear us play stuff? Download the TuneIn App or visit the WPPJ website here: or this direct link:

I'm also in real live print journalism! Kinda. I was hired as a freelance sports stringer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. On Friday nights I go to the PG's north shore offices and answer phones for two hours or so taking high school football summaries. It's a paid gig and I've found that it's really fun. And I also like high school football, so this is a good way of staying connected without being that alumnus that goes back to all the games.

Those are the major developments in my life at this point. People are fantastic here, and the professors are also pretty great. I've been keeping in touch with the people back home to a decent degree, but it's a bit hard. We're in our own little world here at Point Park - directly connected to the real world of Pittsburgh.