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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