I went to a VERY RURAL high school. We had 3 math classes that everyone went through... none of them college level. My math class decided it was funny to rip up the floor tiles and smash them against the blackboard when the teacher's back was turned. Kids would just not do the homework and they would pass them so they didn't have to deal with them for another year.
No AP classes, no test prep to speak of. Top of the class were just the obedient kids who did the 7th-grade level homework assignments. We had a small band and it was tight-knit and fun.
I get really down on myself because I'm so far away from what I actually want to be. But did I actually have a chance? Yeah. But a small one. Much smaller than a lot of other people. And now the kind of jobs I can get are... fine I guess. Not great, just fine. I'm almost 30 and now I need to learn a ton of mathematics my peers have known for a decade.
I ended up going to whatever Chicago college would take me at an affordable rate ( DePaul ). College was hard. I worked 40 hours a week and went to night classes. I struggled through the "easy" classes and SCRAPED past on the hard classes.
Still, my early education wasn't SO BAD. At least I didn't have to worry about violence or a gang trying to draft me.
I have a crazy idea around this: End high school sooner.
Let the kids leave sophomore year, or even earlier. Let them go to trade schools.
For most of the country, school is just child jail. Why are we forcing students who WANT TO LEARN AND IMPROVE deal with students who do not want to be there, and are going to end up working at a tire plant anyway?
"But but but.. the education!" They are not getting an education anyway. The schools do not have enough resources to teach these kids. They do not want to be there. They are torturing everyone around them because they are bored.
No one in my family has been to college. I am a first-generation American from the Bible Belt, a state that is 49th in education. I was fortunate that I loved nature, books, music, sports, computers, creative service, big ideas. This helped me find a way out of poverty, out of a life of drugs and crime surrounded by cops and judges.
I am a minority but that is not my identity. I am a man but I respect women, hoping for equality for all. Yet, above everything, I believe in a meritocracy. I was in SF last fall, realized that I don't even want to move there anymore. I am visiting NYC this month for work/fun, maybe that's where I'll want to be. Maybe though, I'll aim even higher (live by some mountains like originally planned) because SF felt like it was too one-dimensional for me. NYC looks amazing but I may just see it a place I visit when I need to instead of moving there.
I was rejected from YC once and I felt bad about it. I still love HN but I've learned that SV isn't the gatekeeper anymore, the Internet as a whole is. If I keep chugging away every day and put myself in the best position to get my ideas out into the world, I believe that the best design and marketing will always beat out a team with better engineers that lacks good design/marketing.
I have no trust fund or inheritance, just the sweat of my brow, this brain aided by computers, and the vision inside my heart.
"Fortune favors the bold"
After growing up in the Bible Belt and living in Utah for a year, I realized just how much more I value mountains over skyscrapers.
Montana just felt WILD. Missoula had a vibe that is hard to describe. I just felt like I was at the edge of civilization but still had fast internet and a Target close by when I needed it.
Really? According to the statistics, the west coast cities have a surplus of single men, whereas the east coast cities have a surplus of single women. Of course, lots of single women in a place doesn't mean that there's a lot who will match you.
I'm in DC, the #2 metro area for surplus single women (NYC is #1), and interestingly, I do get a lot of dates, but the large majority of them are from Asia (as in born there, not just descended from there). The professional white women here all seem to want a guy from the cover of GQ who likes to go to bars and drink a lot, and I don't drink. Or they're conservative and religious. Maybe I need to move to Portland...
The type of women you describe are not my cup of tea, I like women who love the outdoors, bookstores, and are into a mindful, peaceful way of life that challenges materialism and consumerism. They are out there, they tend to like weirdos like me because they don't want the GQ cover guy who loves to drink. I'm not much of a drinker either, even weed is not as appealing to me as it was a few years ago. I like clarity of mind and I value 'the lightness of being' more than anything external.
Portland - one of my favorite cities all around. Felt so clean, people were friendly, I felt welcome because I am a bit strange looking from the outside. Yet, 'creative weird' is cool in Oregon. Of course, 'sketchy weird' is a red flag most places in the world though.
Any tips for NYC? I'm a little intimidated but I'm gonna go anyways.
More than anything, I see the next year or two as time to be nomad and explore as much of the planet as possible.
Can you expound further on this? I keep hearing this, but it seems that the big names (Apple, Switch) just have datacenters in the area. I lived in the area from 2014 to 2016, and it seemed like not a whole lot was going on techwise. I know that the Gigafactory is therenow, but it's not really employing a lot of HN type people.
I lived in Carson, and never in a million years did I think something like this would take off. A lot of these jobs seem more dev oriented (I'm a designer), but it's good to see more tech jobs coming to the area in general.
I love the idea of vandwelling too, so this would serve as a good central hub.
A bit further of a flight to SF and Seattle, Salt lake, but also has a ton of outdoor access.
SLC is a great city too. I have some good friends there right now. Outdoor access is a higher priority to me than bars and clubs.
YES, YES, YES! As a teacher at a rural high school (the same one I went to and that I was blessed to have a few really good teachers and accelerated only classes with kids who wanted to be there), this is what's needed. Most these kids don't want to be here, and it's just frustrating everyone and lowering standards around the board.
I would also say that your first point leads to something else too -- kids from not-so-wealthy parents don't understand the importance of things like internships and networking; I sure as hell didn't, compared to many of my kids (at a "rich kid" college). I took my summers to go to Europe, for free on school funding, and didn't get the experience or connections I needed to go to other jobs; that's a big part of the reason why I'm teaching where I graduated from... There's a lot of stuff I wish I had done differently looking back, mostly things like that. And I can't blame my parents; they didn't really know it either -- mom was a teacher and dad worked for the family business most of my childhood. (Really, I kinda blame the school; I think they assume everyone knows it, when that's really not true at all...). That's part of where the issues lie as well...and, once you're behind, as you mention, it's harder to catch back up.
Its a "meta" advantage that evolved after there was a stable state of people going to college and getting jobs.
Now that the economy has changed, the drop of pay power in other jobs make the well paying ones stand out - and more competitive.
IF everyone were to go to find connections, you would basically recreate the old boy networks and quid pro quo social networks of old India/China.
We live in an excellent upper middle class area with excellent schools. And yet the same truth applies here as it does everywhere else in the nation: Kids graduating high school are only qualified for stacking boxes on shelves, making coffee or, maybe, applying for college. They know nothing useful and have trouble adding value above minimum wage.
Knowing this was the case I got my college-bound kid ready for the real world at various levels. He can work with his hands (woodwork, weld, manual and CNC mill, etc.) as well as his brain (programming, various MOOCs and a Nanodegree on web development).
By the time he left high school he could reach for jobs making 4x to 5x what his friends could land.
He also got an education on financial matters. He has, as a result, saved more money than many of his friends will see in five years and is getting ready to start investing some of it. All while he works on his university degrees.
Secondary education has become useless. We give our kids to these institutions until they are 18 and they come out barely ready to stack boxes in a warehouse. This is criminal. It is an incredible waste of over a decade of someone’s life.
Not sure how to solve this problem. It involved forces and interests that are hard to wrestle with.
Unfortunately, this is only true for places with trade schools nearby. I grew up outside of Chicago and every school had this option.
Having being shoved down that path in the UK due to dyslexia it does have its downside lots of bright kids where sent to secondary modern schools and left at 16 to work down the pits etc.
Myself, I left high school with high marks but no direction. I went to university for computer science the next fall, not because I knew that CS was for me, but because my brother went through the same program and I didn't know what else to do. That only lasted one semester, but six years on, after working various jobs and getting a college diploma in Graphic Design, I've landed on web design and development as a career. I had no idea this kind of work existed when I was in high school.
There are a lot of people who can or could stitch together existing libraries to accomplish results. There are a lot fewer people (than are currently participating) who have any business writing those libraries in the first place.
My hope is that if we just acknowledged the difference in these two problem domains we might get more quality over quantity in the places where it really matters.
I wonder sometimes how much of the problem with switching careers comes down to the usual scapegoat - lack of humility - and how much of it comes instead from infantilizing the students.
If we're going to keep moving the workforce around every 15 years then we need a way for someone^W most people to comfortably have 3-4 fairly distinct careers in their lifetime.
But you'll be putting in 50-60 hour weeks in the cold and heat. On the bright side, the work isn't as physically demanding as some other jobs.
I've pitched the idea to a bunch of friends who seem to have an aptitude. They'd all rather with as delivery boys, waiters, or whatever low end job. They don't want a "dirty job". They want to hold out for an easy money desk job. Screw working in the cold, I'll just stick with my $7.25/he job.
Precalc and English were me 2 most useful classes.
"Science" "engineering" and "history" were actually useless. If you were going to get further education, college science eclipses HS science in 1 semester. My Engineering class was the most absurd, it wasn't engineering. History was basically propaganda.
High school needs to end sooner. AP classes are the sign of this.
Here is a thing someone discovered at one point in time. Here is the conclusion. Now do this experiment. You didn't get the right answer? Do it again until you do. Or make up an answer that you think is right enough that you'll get credit. Sure, some people probably figure out what you're supposed to be learning, but I suspect most people just figure out that you should listen to authority and parrot what they expect you to say.
(I take the point, though -- I briefly taught HS math and one of my responses to the perennial "when are we going to use this" question was "most of you have no idea all the things you'll need or want to do yet, and we want to open doors for you.")
I blame your teachers.
There's a host of skills I'd love to have now, don't have the time/energy to learn now, and could have acquired very easily in my rural high school, instead of taking a calculus class I'd already learned on my own the year before, because it was the highest-level math class offered and the one that all the "smart" people were taking.
Looking back at my Canadian (BC) high school history curriculum, it was well-sourced and written, but I think it could have been structured in such a way to encourage youth to understand modern politics better.
Now there was nothing in the curriculum that said "Students must learn that Israel can do no wrong" it was just the way he chose to bias his presentation.
I agree that the Canadian history post-1945 wasn’t emphasized enough; it should have been the center-focus. I had a good teacher in the eleventh grade that vocationally extended the curriculum to include things like economic and social issues, but they were a rare one. Honestly, if they spent as much time on The Quiet Revolution or Western Alienation as WWI, I think young British Columbians would be much better off.
Pre-highschool Canadian history was extensively focused on pre-1945 events and pretty focused around Eastern/Acadian history
I agree with most of your statements.
Success is not only determined by how much parents spend on education, though. It’s a lot harder to start a Facebook or Apple in 2019 than it was in 1980 or 2004. Or to start a Snapchat or Twitter than it was in 2009.
That isn’t to say all the good ideas have been taken. Technology is just much more mature than it was in the early 2000s. Many of the ideas (which seem obvious now) have already been fulfilled by dominant, established players. I’m sure I’m not the only one who looks at someone like Dell and says “crap, if I was 20 years older, I could have definitely done something like that.”. Nope. Wishful thinking.
I was always a top-scoring test taker but I actually don’t like complex mental work that much. I wish “trade” jobs paid more, because honestly, it sounds much more relaxing to do electrician type work or mechanical work than sit and stare at a computer all day.
Bonus: once I went to college I found that 15hrs of 100-200 level college courses took up one hell of a lot less of my time than high school plus the ~2.5-3hrs of homework they assigned a night (I understand that part's even worse these days—what a joke). Like, under half as much. Waste of a couple good years. I'd strongly recommend giving that plan consideration, to anyone who thinks they can pass the GED and is having anything other than an outstanding time in high school.
The U.S. has this, many high schools have trade programs. You're still "technically" in school you spend your junior and senior year at a trade school and often working / making money (some as early as sophomore year)
I also went to a "decent but not great" public school and saw similar behavior. Teachers were underpaid and overworked, and are basically just baby sitters with a lip service to actual teaching. Most of the kids went wild because their home life was so bad and had no rules once they left schools. This is because their parents were working poor, often working two jobs and with no time to properly raise kids. Or trapped in a cycle of poverty that causes all sorts of other home issues.
Most of these problems begin at the home and then cash strapped school systems have to deal with the consequences. Schools have become "child jails" because of broader societal problems.
You don't see this at the college level because state universities are run at the state level (and are also funded in an entirely different way, but they do receive state tax funds for in-state students to my knowledge).
I had a friend in college who grew up in an even richer neighborhood, and his school inflated GPAs to the point where most top-tier schools threw away their applications.
Not saying you're wrong, but lack of money isn't the only issue in the public education system in America.
In the US at least, schools bear the brunt of consequence of the lack of social safety nets. They are expected to not only teach but also raise kids that have no real parents (who are either working two jobs or the victims of a life time of poverty themselves)
If we want to improve education, we need to take a broader look at inequality and the cycles of poverty that feed into each other.
You missed the point. More funding won't help if you're placed with kids that do not want to learn. A perfectly reasonable solution is exactly like OP said, separate out at sophomore year the people who GAF. Germany does this, it works well, and it doesn't cost a fortune to try to give students a Stanford level education who just want to do nothing.
There is very little kids inherently want more than to learn—if they've learned not to want to learn, either in general or in the particular venue of the school system, that's a failing of the school system or society more generally that needs to stop happening, rather than writing off those who have been failed.
While I agree that alternative programs should be available, it's a bit silly to chalk up most educational problems to "kids don't want to learn".
Germany doesn't have the scale of inequality the US has and shouldn't be compared strongly to our situation. We have bigger fish to fry.
Of course it's not. Almost everything you own is better because the people who made it were trying to outcompete some other people.
Only full on Gates program I've ever heard of is Donkey.bas
Gates was responsible for writing the first Altair Microsoft BASIC interpreter, except the bootloader, the software for the Kyotronic clones (designed in collaboration with Kay Nishi and licenced to Kyocera, Tandy and others).
Gates also had ample experience in programming minicomputers such as DEC PDP series together with Paul Allen.
You can read all about it in all the Bill Gates biographies out there.
I have an even crazier idea: subsidize education so much that every school is as good as the ones Zuckerberg and Gates attended.
Other than healthcare and law enforcement, everything else can be 100% privatized.
You won't get that. The truth is that parental involvement is at least if not more important than the sort of school they go to.
I would guess that if Zuckerberg and Gates had been forced to go to public school, they still would have done well due to parental involvement. On the other hand, if you took a child in a single parent home in which the parent works 2 jobs and struggles to pay bills and put them in the same school that Zuckerberg and Gates attended, I would bet that they would do worse than hypothetical Zuckerberg or Gates at a crappy school.
Part of the reason why private schools score higher is that they select for parents who 1) Care about education and 2) Are well off enough economically to afford it. You put a bunch of students like that together and in aggregate they are going to do well. On the other hand, if you have a school (with mandatory attendance) where a large portion of the students live in struggling households where concern for education is behind putting food on the table and a roof over head, the school is going to struggle, even if you had the best teachers in the world with a vast amount of teaching resources.
If the preponderance of a community doesn't value education enough, or can't at least take the time to act on feedback from teachers about how their kids are doing, then you're just going to end up with a self-fulfilling prophesy of failure. On the one hand, you've got kids being made fun of for "acting white" when they try hard, and parents laying into teachers for daring to criticize their children who are acting out.
Money can't fix any of that, and it matters a whole hell of a lot less than parents who at least put in some effort. My best friend- who I first met in college- grew up in near-abject poverty, raised by a single parent who worked a lot. His parent made sure to drill into him the importance of trying hard in school, and what the other kids he tried to emulate were doing wrong (even to the point of having him join a hockey team instead of a basketball team to break him of living up- or rather down- to stereotypes).
> The truth is that parental involvement is at least if not more important than the sort of school they go to.
It doesn't even have to be private-school mastery-based education with a 6-1 student/teacher ratio to make a significant difference, nor do we need to use Zuckerberg/Gates or other unicorns as the role models here.
What would it take to reverse the downward spiral in public education? Teachers who are paid a decent wage and aren't overwhelmed with 40-1 or higher ratios, crumbling infrastructure and insane administrations. That's totally doable-- if our culture is worth a damn.
Some private schools offer scholarships and those have been shown to significantly help less well to do kids succeed. I think there's a private school in Oakland that does this.
I think, as a first order of business, we should have our schools providing 3 meals a day to the kids. That will help things tremendously.
But to the spirit of your point: yes, he did grow up in a household with two highly educated parents.
Privatization ruins lots more than just healthcare and law enforcement.
Of course, I went to school long enough ago that the individual schools had almost unlimited latitude to tailor the schools to local conditions and needs. The forced homogenization of how schools are operated over the intervening decades is at least partly responsible for the rapid increase in operating costs without any improvements in educational results.
They still have trouble finding teachers. Probably due to all the lock-downs due to credible threats of violence, being cursed at and threatened by 7-year-olds on a regular basis, that kind of thing.
For racist reasons, yes, but also because home prices have become a proxy filter for schools (filtering for kids whose parents are able and willing to pay inflated prices to send their kids to school with other kids whose parents are able and willing to pay inflated housing prices—it's a feedback loop).
The premium's a good 20-25% around these parts for safe-neighborhood-good-schools versus safe-neighborhood-mediocre-schools, so not nothing, and the entirety of many home buyers' equity early in their mortgage. Harder to compare with neighborhoods where the schools are outright bad since the houses there are usually in much worse shape and in high-crime areas, but one must assume the effect would be far stronger still, if one could find an all-else-being-equal comparison.
Still worth doing? Maybe, but if you just tell those middle and upper-middle class folks (actually rich people unaffected, as usual) to screw off and eat a loss you're gonna have some difficulty. And that's before racism even enters the picture, which of course it would.
The neighborhood deltas got so bad that these donations themselves are pooled and spread around Palo Alto!
But what this means is that the kids in, say, Lodi are still getting shafted even though the whole point of spreading the money around was to try to level the school spending difference between rich and poor areas.
So are the ones in a 200 person town in Alaska. What does proximity matter?
More funding relative to what? Certainly not relative to the funding Palo Alto schools are getting.
In my opinion we need more private law enforcement. Too many cops are spending too many man hours as glorified security guards and the downside is that they're expensive and we can't fire them, sue the employer or not renew the contract if they screw up.
There's no reason to have "real police" standing around at city hall or a sports event and the benefits are marginal at best. Just hire security guards. They are just as capable in those situations and have far less downsides. Same goes for directing traffic, don't waste money paying cops to do it.
I went to a private high school in Westchester with a $20k/year tuition. My high school was significantly better than most. But it was still "only" good, not extraordinary.
The schools Gates and Zuckerberg attended have tuitions of $35k and $50k, respectively. They also have endowments larger than those of most universities, at $130 million and $1.2 billion respectively.
There simply isn't enough money to fulfill your proposal. Educational achievement is strongly positively correlated with wealth. Wealth attracts itself; it centralizes and consolidates around more wealth.
There are different things you could do to make most public high schools approximately as good as most private high schools. Stuyvesant is an exceptional public school in NYC; better than my own private high school, in my opinion. With significant, nontrivial socioeconomic reforms you could probably make most public high schools in NYC as good as Stuyvesant. Even achieving this would require vast amounts of money, probably more than you could convince politicians to tax.
But you'll never get every single public school in the country to empower its students with the resources available to schools like Lakeside and Philips Exeter. It's infeasible. They may as well be research universities.
They'll never have the same level of resources, but I bet top public schools are already at parity when it comes to quality of education. It doesn't cost $50k/year to provide a $50k/year education - it costs $50k/year to isolate your kid among others whose parents can afford to pay $50k/year.
College Board, a for-profit private corporation, is the company responsible for administering the SAT/ACT which is essentially a college entrance exam. Its cost is non-negligible for a low income student and it can be prepared for with classes that once again have a cost that is non-negligible.
As the article states, colleges also have a profit motive and want to maximize their revenue. They are not incentivized to admit high-performing, low income students when they have a low probability of having their families donate prior to admission and just as likely have a low probability to donate after graduation. Remember that upward mobility is not just a factor of alma mater but also your network of high worth individuals that allows you to have the disposable income to donate.
So it's money all the way down. We can keep kicking the can further down the road and blame the next party. However I think it's worth stopping this issue with the employer. Outside of credit risk, the income of a potential employee is irrelevant if that individual is capable of handling the responsibilities of the position.
Yes, alma mater is a strong indicator of success and capability. However so is self-directed learning, examples of big fish in the small pond, etc. We need to further democratize free/low-cost education by investing in that infrastructure and content at the community level. Most importantly, we need to remove the stigma of not having a shiny diploma.
Employers need to also invest beyond the current employee and into communities to get these potential stars out of the vicious cycle of inequality.
They have fee waivers for low-income students, which cover the cost of 2 SAT sittings and up to 6 subject tests. https://blog.collegeboard.org/guide-to-sat-fee-waivers
Why bother when you have H1Bs?
Companies have no moral obligation to help the citizens over any other human being, just to deliver profit to shareholders.
So while I would like to see this happen, I don't see how it can.
It's a shame that you work for an education startup and you don't even bother reading the articles you are posting.
The article clearly states, that the standardized tests made things more egalitarian.
If you truly are interested in the truth and not merely trying to profit on persecuting people on ideological grounds, perhaps you might want to point to where the flaws in the tests lie, something the article fails to mention.
They forgot to mention that the paper says IQ cutoffs were 130 for non-disadvantaged students vs 115 for poor/minority.
The paper then goes on to say, with lower ovjective standards, the groups pass the subjective bar at equal rates.
The subjective bar being applied by a system so motivated to achieve proportional representation they altered cutoffs.
The results would not be reliable immediately, but over time such a system would simultaneously refocus the billions spent on standardized testing into more productive educational endeavors while also supporting educational improvement. As a high school level teacher, standardized testing data is useless for improving my instruction and improving student outcomes. We should close the gap between these redundant assessment regimes, reduce the negative impacts associated with how we administer standardized assessments, and save school districts money.
I don't see changing a test to be a solution. If the problem is not having well equipped parents and network, then the solution has to attack that issue. Which of course is very difficult and spans over decades as it would take generations to change.
However, don't make the test expensive. Basically, make it economically equal to as great a degree as possible. Some will still be disadvantaged of course, but I think at some point that's reality, the fact is everyone is not equal. If everyone is treated equal though, then at least those with value can rise themselves to the top regardless of other circumstance.
The article doesn't say that. The Army test before it seems to fit that description, but my reading says what would become the SAT was simply to keep stupid people out. The fact that the test's author thought "stupid people" would consist primarily of non-Nordic not-white-folk not withstanding, the test is what brought college admissions equality, or at least more of it, to minorities and immigrants.
seems like the kind of thing that pretty much everyone except racists would be for
Even if it were admittedly design to keep out minorities, the fact that it backfired and did the exact opposite is enough for me to support such a test. So you're calling me a racist? Can't we just have an honest discussion?
The test is in fact meant to discriminate between people, in a purely mathematical sense between those clever enough and those who are not.
So unless you can pinpoint where the methodology is flawed, I would recommend you to go and look up the story of "the boy who cried wolf", before running around and accusing everybody you don't agree with for hate-crime.
Careful: labelling people, no true Scotsman style, is not a great way to push an argument. And it's clear that there is a real problem that needs to be solved (assessing students), so however poor the SAT is at doing this, you're going to have to provide something that can replace it.
Some elite schools talk about free scholarships for those that make less than a certain income, but how many of those elite schools are admitting poor smart students? When you’re smart and attend a HS that doesn’t make you competitive, you tend to get rejected.
If you had the wherewithal to do well at a lousy high school, you'll be just as able to make something of yourself at a mid-grade university.
Elite universities are important if you want to be in the "elite" clique. If you just want to make a better life for yourself, any old university will get you pretty far. One close to home will likely be a lot more relatable culturally as well. Not everyone wants to uproot their identity and go be someone else somewhere else.
It's also worth noting that Harvard, for example, admits fewer than 3,000 students per year. That means that 100-150 students (out of 40,000 applicants) will come from a poor background.
Seems like being rejected from an Ivy league school is statistically the most likely outcome, regardless of what your qualifications are.
I'm not sure I see a problem. You can get a great education in most non-elite schools. You can do well in undergrad and it makes it easier to go to an elite grad school (it's a much more level playing field to get in there). It's not as if the landscape of education has a sharp cutoff at the elite level.
I know this is going to rub people the wrong way, but your comment reminds me of a documentary I saw where a couple tried to live on food stamps to show how difficult life is (as in that food stamps don't provide for much food).
The couple insisted on buying everything organic.
Yes, that is going to make life difficult!
I completely agree with you that you can get fantastic educations in a number of places.
But I think part of the problem is how much of a walled garden there is associated with these elite institutions in terms of top positions.
Tech isn't the only place this happens either.
I've become convinced that part of the source of our inequality in the US is hypercredentialing. That is, your abilities and skillset are equated with your degree. You're not that competent if you didn't go to an elite college, you can't do task X unless you have this very specific degree in Y, etc. and so forth and so on. It's rampant and affects all sorts of realms, from unemployment to licensing laws.
The comments in this thread make it sound like if you aren't born in the top 1% and don't spend every minute planning your application to uni then you will end up homeless on the street. If that is true then I highly recommend moving somewhere sane.
Interesting - I never browse job postings here. Do you have a reference?
What's posted on HN is not at all representative of the rest of the country, though. I've certainly worked in places where they tend to prefer "top schools", but once again, that was for graduate degrees, where as I said, being from a wealthy background doesn't help all that much. And for engineering schools (Princeton would not be viewed favorably, for example).
>Tech isn't the only place this happens either.
In my experience, tech is probably where it happens less. In most of my peer companies, after something like 4-5 years experience, no one cares where you went to school. It's much more common for things like MBA and Law (one lawyer told me that many of his firm's clients stipulate that the lawyers working on their case must be from a top school, and graduated in the top N of the class).
>I've become convinced that part of the source of our inequality in the US is hypercredentialing. That is, your abilities and skillset are equated with your degree. You're not that competent if you didn't go to an elite college, you can't do task X unless you have this very specific degree in Y, etc. and so forth and so on. It's rampant and affects all sorts of realms, from unemployment to licensing laws.
I'd be interested in seeing studies supporting this. In my anecdotal experience, I've seen it much more acutely in other countries. But then again, those countries also tend to have much more inequality.
Elite universities tend to try to make admissions somewhat objective and so you get certain points for various things. And coming from a less privileged background gives you a pretty big boost. Pair that with a perfect SAT and you're already very near the finish line. Really strange he wouldn't get accepted. Extracurricular/sports are also important.
I came from a crap school, went to an top university (and did not have a 1600), felt slightly behind early on in calculus since most of everybody had already taken it in high school and I had not, but the playing field leveled out very rapidly. Never felt the least bit disadvantaged in any other course. I'm also certain that I would not have gotten in if I had my exact same background but came from a more prestigious/wealthy school. Of course I'd probably have done more in my high school years if I had that background, which is exactly why you get that boost coming from a poor background.
That's the problem though - blank slate theory. If we had a more biological attitude towards this, we'd be able to help individual more effectively. Do IQ tests yearly, find smart kids and get them into better programs. On the flipside, accept that some schools have naturally less intelligent kids, and that their performance will, as a result, be lower.
Blank slate and no child left behind and similar ideas create this false belief that bad results are the teachers fault. If you teach kids that all have below average IQs, and they achieve average results, you are an awesome teacher. If you teach geniuses and the get average results, you are awful.
1. The US will not be able to compete w/ India or China when it comes to population.
2. As low-hanging fruit in the economy is gobbled up, advanced economies will need to rely on highly skilled workers to continue growth.
Basically, America is going to have to get MUCH better at realizing the full potential of it's population in order to keep growing. That means investing in poor neighborhoods and undeserved communities, providing equal access and opportunity and removing as many barriers as possible to those who have been traditionally marginalized.
While many companies use "woke as a business strategy" the underlying economics behind the recent diversity push of major tech companies is backed by these facts.
The example I turn to -- and I'd be interested in the hard data on this -- is the explosion of STEM education in the US after WWII. It seems to me that a massive institution of STEM education was built on the idea that we needed to "beat the soviets" in the tech race. Ample public funding made tuition cheap and expanded opportunities for huge swaths of the population. But access to these institutions is being shut out by increasing costs. Students pay a fortune in tuition and housing, and yet every intro science and technology class doesn't have enough seats.
I think it's a subtle change that has occurred. The universities don't much care about providing the best possible education. They care about signaling to the market that their graduates are the best, so that graduates can pay their loans back. This is because there is no unified mission any more. We're not engaged in a technological race with anyone, so the institutions only need to perpetuate the signal of quality--not quality itself--to maintain their existence.
We're resting on the inertia, which is slowly waning until we are not the best in the world any more. At that point, the true magnitude of the deficit will become apparent, because immigrants will look elsewhere to be educated.
The institutions that are really picking up the slack here are community colleges. Their resources are dwarfed by the scope of their mission.
I enjoyed the way you phrased this. At times I've felt like different aspects of the "college experience" would be a scam if there weren't so many disparate good-intentions.
> They care about signaling
Non-traditional students in my university used to qualify for free tutoring by specific university-approved tutors.
This semester, it was deemed an inappropriate use of resources and the funding was instead redirected to hire an administrator to write a regular newsletter "designed for the nontraditional undergraduate community" to "provide more opportunities to enhance and enrich your student experience".
That's quite an ambitious goal for what I would term marketing. If there is in fact anything resembling a unified-mission at this time, it certainly does not include reducing friction of at-risk students from graduating.
It's important to note that this is both a controversial and complicated topic, since it isn't entirely accurate to say that the course material for algebra has been eliminated from 8th grade math. However, it does mean that graduates of SFUSD now have to amend their high school path (summer sessions, private classes followed by entrance exams, or doubling up on math during one or more years of high school) in order to be prepared to take calculus in their senior year of High School. This isn't the case for private schools or public schools from other Bay Area districts, which continue to teach algebra as a formal standalone course in 8th grade.
Here's one link about it, but I'd recommend reading more extensively if you're interested:
It's a more nuanced issue than pure "progressive" (or what the parent poster called "woke") politics, as this decision was also made as part of a push to teach math differently and less mechanically (common core).
However, concern over the racial/ethnic composition of 8th grade algebra classes in SFUSD was a stated concern of many of the people promoting this decision.
As for quality of life, China already seems to be doing better in terms of public transport. America doesn't have anything at all to brag about here, unless you're comparing to Zimbabwe or something.
How long until the west starts to immigrate into china instead of the other way around?
It was my honest opinion that this worked against India and China historically. More mouths to feed, more people to educate.
1. The US will not be able to compete w/ India or China when it comes to population
2. Most people with high ability are born outside of the US or any country statistically.
3. Importing the best and brightest is the surest way to continue growth.
The argument for immigration is that most 1st world countries do a great job of filling the middle 80% - most jobs in other words. We struggle at the top - as the top is hard to fulfill by definition - and the bottom, as most 1st world born don't want to, say, pick fruit.
To make sure 1st world economies continue to grow maximally, we need more of the very best, and more of those willing to do the sort of menial tasks we collectively simply don't want to.
Everyone wins from that. Those born in a 1st world country get to work at better run companies, and have their menial tasks fulfilled at a rate that keeps fruit cheap, and wait times low for things like fixing a broken door / getting a house painted.
It seems to me that precisely the worst forms of that are the ones promoted most heavily. It is not difficult in the slightest to test a person's financial means, and that is the best proxy for the kind of inequality you're talking about; but American (and Canadian) schools tend to focus on imperfect, politically-charged metrics of "marginalized" (usually mainly race).
Since the current forms of this kind of policy tend to mainly attract racists (the subtle, erudite kind), they tend not to address the broader issues, and they tend to push away true progressives.
When a potentially "bright" kid has been subjected to 12 years of such deeply-flawed, even outright nonsensical cargo-cult schooling, how can we even expect her to be interested in college?
As an example of new ways of teaching math, my daughter is in public school kindergarten and they are doing less arithmetic than I did as a kid, but they're already introducing concepts like number sets and bases.
It would be much better to give students the right kind of education, and make sure that post k-12 training reflects the demands in the market. Right now there's huge demand for construction workers that isn't being filled, and there are many other niches that could use the right type of trained workers. And industry needs to get better at highering, and better at understand what they actually need, rather than continuing to advertise job templates for which no one's given any thought to what they actually need.
Why we let the companies push that externality on higher education is beyond me.
And I think degree inflation would be a great thing, if we could just reduce tuitions.
A highly educated populace is a good thing.
I've worked as farm labour in a tiny little town, where most of the the farmers went to college.
If you want to go back to the farm, it's fine. Training is fine, but a true education is something they can never take away from you.
I also want a highly educated populace, but you can get that from a book/library/continuing education courses/online courses, book clubs, etc: there's no reason you MUST spend 50K on it (unless employers force it: as with degree inflation). That problem is the institutionalization of education and their subsequent monopoly on it.
Back when I went to university I paid for it by working farm labour. Not so feasible now.
If we prioritized that as a society, we could have practically free higher education.
Welcome to the flip side of doing away with non-compete agreements. Why should a business invest so much money in training workers when they'll just get poached away by a competitor who is virtually guaranteed to be able to offer higher pay, not just for the value of the trained skill but because the competitor doesn't need to pay the overhead costs of training them? When new employees can leave their contracts at any time and for any reason, the expectations of employers necessarily shift away from training.
Now of course, reality is a little more nuanced. Training for long-time employees to keep them up-to-date makes more sense since they have so much domain experience internalized. A just law would need to allow for some exceptions to allow employees to break their non-competes in cases like toxic workplaces, and the law would need to set a maximum term for a non-compete to prevent workers from being exploited for low pay for their entire working lives.
But the notion that employers today should take "no-experience-needed" candidates off the street, give them 6+ months of full-day training with pay, and allow them to walk right out the door a week later to their competitor... is laughable on its face.
My answer to why companies should train people if they can just leave for another company is twofold:
1: It evens out. Sometimes people will leave company A, which trained them, and come to your company, and other times they you will train them and they will leave. As long as the relative rates are about even, it should be ok.
2: Any general training that would apply to all similar companies can just as easily be acquired on the job at any given company. So train the employees, and if you really don't want to lose your 'investment' then perhaps treat them nicely?
Why are we always so quick to cry a river for huge organizations that hold a disproportionate amount of power over individuals?
2. "Treat people nicely" is about as effective a corporate policy as a law is forcing people to "be good and moral." A small company can effectively assert hiring control in hiring only people who "gel" with the people leading the company. A large company with a hiring quota of hundreds or thousands of people a quarter cannot. Ultimately, people are going to have personality conflicts with coworkers at large companies. You can either accept that as an inevitability and find a solution for it, or you can write off people finding (somewhat legitimate but still entirely foreseeable and unavoidable) excuses to move as BigCo management not treating their workers "nicely".
If that's what you're saying, it's a false dichotomy.
Cry me a river for the corporations, who cares what they want? It's always their agenda that wins these days anyway. That's the way the world is going.
Yes, one way, in theory, of doing that is by offloading training externalities to higher education. But that has its own tradeoffs, namely, the tendency of universities to adopt ivory-tower attitudes to education, the tendency of American higher education to inflate costs beyond any reasonable limit to afford facilities, services, and administration of dubious value to the education afforded the end consumer / student, and the tendency of universities to not educate with an eye to the skillsets which contemporary employers value.
Which is why the better way is to localize training efforts with the actors for whom it is most relevant. But corporate actors are not going to do "the right thing" in a vacuum, the law needs to empower them to do "the right thing", because typically "the right thing" will hurt any actor who does it in isolation but is bearable if all actors commit to doing it together. The easiest, safest, and most predictable way of making that happen is through law or regulation.
2. Treating 'nicely' is far from enough if another company is simply able to offer a better package. For example, are small/new tech companies not deserving of keeping their investments because they can't pay their devs as well as some large ones? Or if they can't match the prestige of other companies?
As I said in point #1, as long as the rate of defections/arrivals is about even, then your losses on one employee would be offset by your gains on others.
So I have no clue what the solution is, all alternatives seem to be negative.
Sure, I could still leave prior to the agreed upon term but I'd be required to pay back their investment. I thought that was fair.
I got a huge relo bonus once to move cross-country. But it had a 2-year clause attached to it, so if I had left after a year, for instance, I would have had to pay back 1/2 of it.
I don't see why the same couldn't be done for education paid by employers.
Remember, a non-compete doesn't prevent people from leaving, it just prevents people from leaving and taking a job in the same field. Most people won't want to leave their field, which is why the non-compete is effective, but in the case of exploitation, people still have an out. An educational debt would follow somebody if they decided to leave, and that's therefore much more coercive and prone to exploitation.
Our educational attainment rates have absolutely skyrocketed. The number of people with a bachelor's degree or higher is now comparable to the number that managed a high school degree in the 1950s. What would you say are the clear benefits we've really achieved from this? It's hard to disagree with a highly education population being a good thing, yet in practice I find myself able to list quite a lot of negatives relating to our sharp increases in educational attainment, but I'm not really sure what the positives are except in the most abstract terms.
However, education is meant to expand your mind and to teach you how to think critically.
Education is supposed to round you out, teach you about the history of your culture.
Adam Gopnik once wrote a piece for the New Yorker. The gist of it is that he was living in Paris, and his wife was pregnant with a girl, after having already had a boy. When French people found out about this the would always say to him: "Mais c'est le choix du roi!"
Finally after a taxi driver said the same thing to him for the 10th time, he asked a bit exasperatedly, what it meant.
The point of the anecdote is that the taxi driver then proceeded to explain how under the Salic law governing the succession of French royalty, having a son followed by a girl had certain advantages.
That is education populace.
 https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2000/01/31/like-a-king (Paywalled)
We could blame this on our educational institutions of course. And I'd agree that our institutions have changed. But this gets into the question of why have they changed? And I think there we get back to the initial issue. As we see vastly more people pursuing post-secondary education, it means that the demographic of your average student is changing. Systems that worked and produced a certain tier of student when dealing with top e.g. 2% of society, cannot reasonably be expected to achieve the same or comparable results when dealing with more than 30% of society.
This is what made me ask the question. In principle I cannot disagree with the notion that an educated population is a good thing. But in practice, universities are seemingly giving it their all to make me rethink this view.
Even if you have a finite number of spots for educated people, isn’t it better to give those spots to the more naturally talented people? Wouldn’t be be better off educating our smartest?
"Every appeal for productivity comes from above. But only creativity is spontaneously rich. It is not from ’productivity’ that a full life is to be expected, it is not ’productivity’ that will produce an enthusiastic collective response to economic needs."
The wasting of talent does not always look like someone languishing in a position below their abilities. Waste of talent can also look like someone expending their creativity pushing addictive services or building products for an audience of pampered elitists.
You deserve a better world.
Oh, my heart bleeds for Silicon Valley-type (the TV series) programmers. Sniff.
"The high-return activity of raising others' aspirations."
> Only a minority of high-achieving, low-income students apply to colleges in the same way that other high-achieving students do: applying to several selective colleges whose curriculum is designed for students with a level of achievement like their own. This is despite the fact that selective colleges typically cost them high-achieving, low-income students less while offering them more generous resources than the non-selective postsecondary institutions they mainly attend. In previous work, we demonstrate that the vast majority of high-achieving, low-income students are unlikely to be reached by traditional methods of informing students about their college opportunities since such methods require the students to be concentrated geographically. In this study, we use a randomized controlled trial to evaluate interventions that provide students with semicustomized information on the application process and colleges' net costs. The interventions also provide students with no-paperwork application fee waivers. The ECO Comprehensive (ECO-C) Intervention costs about $6 per student, and we find that it causes high-achieving, low-income students to apply and be admitted to more colleges, especially those with high graduation rates and generous instructional resources. The students respond to their enlarged opportunity sets by enrolling in colleges that have stronger academic records, higher graduation rates, and more generous resources. Their freshman grades are as good as the control students', despite the fact that the control students attend less selective colleges and therefore compete with peers whose incoming preparation is substantially inferior. Benefit-to-cost ratios for the ECO-C Intervention are extremely high, even under the most conservative assumptions.
A mentor saved my life. She opened my eyes to the world outside of Oklahoma, and I had so much anger saved up inside of me that it fuels me even today. I've spent the last couple decades building startups and have made millions doing it.
Now I'm 35 and I run an online communications school that helps thousands of young people with a focus on mentorship.
Standard tests are the wrong approach. Find mentors.
I knew that the behaviors in these shows were idealized and in large part imaginary, but I also believed they represented the types of relationships and goals I should aspire to if I wanted to learn to behave like the non poor. In retrospect I think my beliefs were pretty healthy considering the circumstances, and in particular more constructive than, e.g., aspiring to be like sports stars.
There's something to be said for demanding, if not mandating, strong moral codes in our popular entertainment. In many ways those old 1950s era shows were far more mature than the current fare. We tend to think of those characters as naive, but I don't think the characters, writers, nor audiences were naive.
I used to box in a gym where a lot of poor kids went and it was amazing how little they knew about the wider world. All they knew was crime, prison, poverty, anger, disappointment and violence. Although a lot of them were clearly very intelligent I doubt they will ever escape that cycle.
Basically it is telling them about things they already had access to but might not have known about. It was only a small experiment, but the early results were promising.
Any company that is struggling with hiring should take notice. I’ve noticed a bias towards Ivies and traditionally well regarded CS schools in initial recruitment, in getting interviews and in decisions. And sure, that’s understandable, but would it really hurt for Google to send a few recruiters to HBCU’s? Or for Microsoft to sponsor a program for underprivileged kids to learn to program. Or heck, help kids who can’t afford to go to college still get opportunities in tech.
Why on earth would you assume this? It's well known that IQ scores do differ across demographic groups. Maybe you are assuming that all groups have equal underlying genetic potential, but there's no actual evidence for this, it's just the politically correct belief that everyone is scared to question.
Well, for good reason. The eugenics programs of the 20th century didn't noticeably improve the average persons life but did ruin (or end) the lives of millions. I'm not surprised people are scared after an outcome like that. Not to mention the supremacist arguments which relied on disparities in ethnic intelligence being the scientific consensus.
19th century social justice activists were able to simultaneously believe that consensus and advocate on behalf of folks. A lot of the problem with the new school is its withering fragility. I'm to understand the jury is still out on whether variance in IQ scores represents underlying genetic variance in g, but which outcome should we hope for? I think I'd prefer to live in the world where it's genetic, that's generously solvable outright with a few decades of well funded research into genetic engineering. By contrast, bigotry and social disparities are intractable logistical nightmares that might take a century to solve.
This is true even if intelligence isn't evenly distributed.
> Any company that is struggling with hiring should take notice.
I wouldn't rely on companies to solve it, equality of opportunity needs to start much earlier.
Completely agree. However, I’m amazed that otherwise profit oriented companies wouldn’t think to explore alternative recruitment channels (even if they take time)
I’ve had great coworkers who didn’t go thru the traditional route.
Personally, Google hired me when I quit my first job out of college, before the one year mark, and was unemployed for a few months. It wasn’t a great look on my resume. The vast majority of companies didn’t give me the light of day. These weren’t top-tier companies, and I doubt they could have offered me the engineering experience or career growth as Google. Those same companies look to employment at FANG as signals of competence. 3 years later, they’re spamming my LinkedIn. One of these companies ask candidates for their SAT score and high school GPA.
More than just minorities, the wasted talent problem extends even to the elite. Ivy League students aspire to work in investment banking and management consulting. The finance industry is one of the biggest modern-day brain drains.
The real wasted talent is in the modern day labor market. We need to invest more in the jobs we want to see - otherwise our brightest minds will continue to waste their lives making money for wealthy people instead of working on the important problems.
The elite is supposed to be a net drain on society. Or else they would not be “elite”.
The result is that gifted education has effectively disappeared from American public schools. Parents of smart rich kids will compensate by sending them to a private school or sending them to enrichment activities outside of school that challenge them at their ability level. Poor kids can't do this, so they're stuck with an education that doesn't help them reach their potential.
The best broad-based way I can think of to address this is to give schools some incentive for producing students that perform exceptionally. Designing the incentives will certainly be fraught though. It is very hard to design something like this that doesn't have too many unintended consequences and is politically palatable.
As NCLB was repealed in 2015, you have either a verb tense problem or are pointing to the wrong law.
The 2 kids went to an inner city high school. They went onto University of California, which were definitely affordable 20 years ago, with loans and grants.
One went to an Ivy League and got PhD in STEM and now working in that field. The other also went to a top ranked public university and got PhD in STEM also.
Had the dad been given a chance to get a proper education, who knows what he could've achieved?
*care would imply that someone does, insurance is more accurate
Here's the first one:
Regarding fairness, maybe it's less important to think about access to learning experiences and more important to think about access to evaluation experiences. If everyone had fair access to proving their talent regardless of how they cultivated it, we might see an increase in learning efficiency. I wonder if this could lead to some sort of market efficiency for talent cultivation.
This is a standard deviation, 15% of people from a 100 IQ pop exceed this threshold.
Growing up I used to think I was smart. Now I think I am the product of a great education system.
only children of the truly rich are going to school for $250k, and they are learning alongside students who are getting the same education for way less.
If the disadvantaged were to be competitive, then it's harder for those at the top to hold onto what they have.
This is undesirable for those whose position in society requires hierarchy. Capitalists hate competition.
I think a part of the reason is that the whole notion of standardized tests, a set factory assembly line like education model is to be blamed here. The baker I know, the car mechanic I know and the Sikh guy who runs the motel on my street they never went to college either but are fairly successful.
Whether you are good or bad at tests is irrelevant when the the very notion of these tests is essentially very elitist, it does not account for street smarts and variety of other factors that can lead to success in life. Unless you have a family and peers you will always live in a low information state where you simply don't know how to approach this education assembly line.
It might be offensive to some, but USA fought it war of independence because it believed you dont have to be born a Lord of Earl to be honorable and dream big. This is the home of the brave and land of free. But then our public edu system is everything opposite of that.
I was told the following 2x2 matrix by a retired school teacher. Think of a 2x2 matrix (with 4 blocks) along two dimensions. Compliance and IQ.
High IQ, High Compliance => These are the kids schools should promote, send to college and will end up working for Government and as white collar workers. They will pay taxes regularly and obey every law. They might not get laid as much or might not smoke weed ever but they might end up working for Google or Facebook.
High IQ, Low Compliance => These people while being worthy of college and other achievements the school system must discourage and discredit them right from an early age ensuring that no other student is influence by them. These are the rebels who question authority and challenge status quo. Most of them will live a miserable, unsatisfactory life disgusted with the system. However handful of them succeed and the above group ends up working for these people.
Low IQ, High Compliance => These the best of kids (in schools perspective). These are the kids that we must send to college even if they do not deserve it. They study things like Gender studies and Race relations and participate in Bernie Sanders rallies. They sometimes might pretend to be rebels but in reality are mere tools in the hands of people smarter than them.
Low IQ, Low Compliance => This assembly line leads straight to the Prison Industrial Complex. You deliberately create laws that these people will end up breaking and ensure heavy jail time for even minor crimes like possessing few grams of weed. A large set of American laws are such as a relatively high IQ informed citizen can easily avoid them but if anyone breaks the law he gets a very big jail time or even shot dead.
A lot of kids from minority or poor neighborhood show non compliance from an early age because they grew up in harsh environments. Hence the school system does everything to suppress them.
It doesn't appear to be a rigorous fallacy, just a defacto one, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lump_of_labour_fallacy