Saturday, March 11, 2006

Outsourcing Education Jobs

John Kerry tried to make the outsourcing of American jobs an important point in his campaign--it's an esoteric enough topic that most people yawned and waited for his next Bush-bashing comment, and they were duly rewarded. As a free marketer myself I'm ok with outsourcing jobs, as I don't see how protectionism helps anyone. Besides, if low-skill American jobs are outsourced, that frees up labor and (some) capital that could be put to even more productive use here in the United States.**

But what about education? Can that be outsourced? Currently I'm in another one of those periods in which I consider getting a masters degree. Not that I really want one, of course--what the heck do I need such a degree for? No, the reason I'm considering getting one is purely financial in that I would "move over" on the salary scale and make over $10,000 a year more than I currently do.

No way do I want to get a generic Masters in Education degree, especially the generic Masters in Education with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction. Gawd, I can't imagine having to put up with more politically correct tripe in the guise of higher education. If you don't know, schools of education at our universities are hotbeds of Marxism, multiculturalism, academic fuzziness, and anti-Americanism. I've had enough of that crap; I want a degree in something real. I talked to a colleague at school this week who's getting a masters in education. He was very upfront with not really caring about the education he's paying for and not really thinking he'll be able to apply any of it in his classroom--he's just tolerating it for the big fat pay raise he'll be getting. I don't want to spend so much of my time in a pursuit like that. I've done enough of that with my credentialing classes and CLAD (Cross-cultural, Linguistic, and Academic Development--think "bilingual ed") coursework. I want to value the education I receive from now on, and value it for more than just the financial rewards it brings me.

One of the fields I've considered is a Masters in Education with an emphasis in what's called "distance learning"--in other words, how to conduct online classes. A couple of CSU's (Cal State University) offer such degrees online, thereby practicing what they teach. This kinda interests me because the subject matter is more technological than political; I could actually use this knowledge. I see a future where online courses will be delivered to certain high school students--homeschoolers (but partially educated by the local school district), expelled students, "home and hospital" students (those who miss great lengths of school due to illness or injury), dropouts, etc. So this is one field in which I can see value, one I might consider.

But let's get back to the original topic--given the education future I envision, what's to stop the education field from outsourcing jobs overseas? The impetus for these thoughts at such an ungodly hour of a Saturday morning was this article about outsourcing, in particular these few sentences about education:

Parts of the education sector are at risk as well. Personal interaction is everything, no doubt, so far as K-12 is concerned, but is it necessary in colleges? Reading about the travails of Lawrence Summers at Harvard, one is reminded that personal interaction with academics (as opposed to graduate-student teaching assistants) is something that undergraduates get rather little of in any case -- despite the colossal fees.

Add this view to my previous post about the value of a college education--at least one that costs upwards of six digits--and I wonder if perhaps higher education might see some of the same outsourcing-related issues that other service industries are currently facing. It's likely that my current job is safe, but perhaps that future I've envisioned will include video streaming from Shanghai, Tokyo, Taipei, Singapore, or Dehli, and not from Sacramento, Denver, St. Louis, or Philadelphia.

Or perhaps maybe the Rust Belt states should quit whining about the loss of their steel-centric economies and hop on this futuristic bandwagon.

**Here's a quote on that topic from the same article, a quote I hadn't read when I wrote my first paragraph above. I'm glad I'm not the only one with faith in the American economy:

The danger, as Blinder rightly argues, is not rising unemployment. People will find work. That happened during the first Industrial Revolution (farming to manufacturing) and the second as well (manufacturing to services). Tens of millions of jobs were lost; tens of millions were created. The American labor market is superbly efficient at moving people out of old jobs and into new ones. (It will be a different story in Europe.) The problem is that the adjustment will be painful. Blinder therefore wants to see a much larger commitment to trade-adjustment assistance. He also seems to favor a thicker and stronger social safety net: unemployment insurance, public health insurance, and so on. (There, I hesitate: Europe's safety net is surely one of the reasons why its labor market is so bad at creating new jobs.)


Dan Edwards said...

Darren, Go for your MA. Perhaps an MA in mathematics? That could also open the door to some part time gigs at the CC level. And, its a "real" academic discipline. At one time, Northern AZ. U. had a "Masters in the Teaching of X" program. It was like 24 hours in your subject area, 12 hours in "educational crap".....kinda a middle ground for those who sought not to go with "pure" education ma's.

Keep in mind that retirement, as it is currently configured, ties in with the last three years teaching salary.....more salary, more retirement pay.

Thanks for your comments at my blog.

Darren said...

It's been 19 years since I was in a college math class. I'm concerned that it's been too long and I've forgotten too much about those darned differential equations about which I learned so much back in the day. Then there's the trouble of *when* those courses are offered at nearby Sac State--and it's certainly not during the summer! Even evening courses are hard to come by.

I'm considering an online Masters in Military History from Norwich. A *real* discipline, and one that would enrich me personally. It would have nothing to do with my math class, but a masters is a masters.

UC Davis has a masters in math education, and they've recently sent me syllabi and other information that I'm sifting through. My concern is that it's done in the School of Education and not the math department of the sciences school--and that's a big strike in my book.

Anonymous said...


How about an online degree from National University in exactly your interest? Master of Science Educational and Instructional Technology, it got my interest a few months ago & they have redone the program to make it more comprehensive.