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For years, former “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe has posted advice to his Facebook page. Every once in a while, though, he gives a little more than just a piece of his mind.

Recently, Rowe was hit with an accusation by Michael Pendleton‎, who claims to be a big-time fan of Rowe. Pendleton, a computer structure analyst, talked up his degree to Rowe. Then he said, “I find it disconcerting that you place so little value on academic education. Not all college grads are in debt. There are scholarships, grants, tuition assistance programs. The next time you need a complex surgery given the choice, I am betting you would take the surgeon that graduated from one of those universities you so love to make fun of.”

But Rowe, who holds a college degree, took Pendleton to task for his comments.

Rowe posted to his Facebook:

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His response, reads, in part:

First of all, congratulations on such a well-balanced resume. I sincerely admire that. Secondly, it’s hard to believe you could have “followed” me from the first days of Dirty Jobs and Deadliest Catch, and be so completely mistaken about my stance on the importance of a college education.

Apologies if I’m mistaken, but every day, protectors of “higher-education” come here to scold me for being “anti-college,” usually because they heard a soundbite on the news or saw a meme in their newsfeed they mistook for “research.” By and large, these are the same people who - if blindfolded - would touch the tusk of elephant and loudly announce to all the world the discovery of a creature made of solid ivory! And they always start as you do – by claiming to have “followed” me from the start. But then they argue in such a way that proves the exact opposite.

For instance, you write, “I find it disconcerting that you place so little value on academic education. Not all college grads are in debt. There are scholarships, grants, tuition assistance programs.”

If I may - where exactly, have you seen me argue against the importance of an academic education? Not the cost – I’m unapologetically opposed to the mind-bending, utterly indefensible skyrocketing cost of tuition. But if I question the value of a $2,000 pair of shoes, that doesn’t mean I’m “anti-footwear.”

Then Rowe addressed Pendleton's remark about him allegedly saying all “graduates are in debt”:

“And where exactly, have you heard me say or imply that “all” graduates are in debt? Sure - I’ve railed against the pressure we put on kids to borrow so much money at such a young age, and I’ve repeatedly likened the student loan bubble to the real-estate bubble that crushed our economy last time around. But where and when have I ever said that all graduates are indebted? If I'm critical of people who buy a house they can't afford, that doesn't mean I'm ”anti-real-estate."

And what exactly have I said or done to give you the impression that I’m unaware of “scholarships, grants, and tuition assistance programs?” In the last three years, not a month has gone by where I haven’t used Facebook to highlight a scholarship winner from my own foundation.

Do you really want to use my own page to lecture me on the existence of scholarship money, while I’m using the same space to announce the recipients of millions of scholarship dollars? With respect, Michael, it’s just not a persuasive argument.

To be clear - I strongly support education in all its forms. I have a college degree, and as I’ve said many times, it’s served me well. But I believe society is making a terrible mistake by promoting college at the expense of all other forms of education. For instance, the surgeon you reference, (who I would indeed prefer to have graduated from an accredited university,) will never make it to the hospital to successfully remove my appendix without a functional infrastructure, which depends almost entirely upon an army of skilled tradespeople.

And yet, our society clearly values the surgeon far more than the mechanic who keeps her car running, or the contractor who put in the roads that allows her to drive to the emergency room."

Lastly, Rowe let Pendleton know exactly what he opposes:

"What I’ve opposed – consistently - is not the importance of higher education, but rather, the relentless drumbeat of “college for everyone.” That’s the real problem, and it's worth repeating. Because this cookie-cutter approach to education presupposes that all worthwhile knowledge can only be attained from a college or a university.

That’s the most dangerous myth of all, and the unintended consequences are now self-evident - the vanishing of shop class in high schools, $1.3 trillion dollars of student loans, and 6 million vacant jobs that no one is trained to do. That’s the skills gap. It's real, and it's a massive problem for anyone who shares my addiction to smooth roads, cool air, and indoor plumbing."

To conclude, Rowe made it clear where he stands, “However - the best path for the most people should never the most expensive, and as long as the government is in the business of lending billions of dollars to college students, I’ll continue to challenge the idea that college is the only place to get a worthwhile education.”

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View Comments(33 comments)
Michael Weatherford(29 likes)I am a plumber at a Medical Research Hospital. I cannot find competent applicants to fill job openings at this time. It is a good paying job with incredible benefits, yet with the boom of new construction that has blessed our country we are woefully short on qualified applicants because of the lack of training being offered in our education system today. These are not jobs that can be filled by the thousands of people with 100k liberal arts degrees. There will come a time in our future where men and women that are lucky enough to have the skills in a trade will command unheard of salaries because there is a lack of qualified individuals to fill the jobs. We have to begin rebuilding our out of date and unsafe infrastructure that has been neglected and we need people trained to do it. Just because a child does not choose to go in debt and attend college does not mean that they can't be extremely successful. President Trump has been vocal on setting up apprenticeship programs for those kids that want something besides a college type career. Of course he will be berated for it. 
Morte206 (20 likes)I went to one of NYCs finest high school. What I learned there was that while I enjoy learning, the academic environment and intellectually challenging discussions, I do not enjoy the idea of over paying for it. Of the 350 students in my graduating class myself and one other student were the only two to chose trade schools after high school. At my 30th reunion this past June he and I were amongst the very few without education debt, either our own or our childrens'.I chose to train to be a funeral director, my friend an HVAC installaion and maintenance fellow. Both of us also went back to school at night and though it took years we both earned our Bachelor's degree going at night after work.The joy of being a debt free, home owner (paid off before my 48th birthday) cannot be understated. I recommend trade schools all the time and when my idiot cousin refused to pay for his son's post secondary training as a welder I did it happily.  He just, with his new bride, closed on a lovely 3 bedroom home. Tradesman work and are the lifeblood of a healthy economy we owe our children, and ultimately our society, the opportunities and advancements a vocational education/ training offers.
Puma(20 likes)Unionized skilled trades are what used to comprise the vast majority of the middle class.  Somewhere about 50% of the workforce after WWII.  Now sadly it's less than 10%!  Can you say destruction of the middle class?  I hear it all the time.  Wonder if there's any correlation?  Love Mike Rowe!  Critical thinker, who seems to see the bigger picture.  Really wish He'd get into politics.  He's got my vote!