Why get a degree?
Re "Is a college degree still worth it?," June 12
It is hard to believe that The Times would present a front page article questioning the value of a college education. Even a college major that may be significantly less rigorous than science or engineering requires that the student synthesize, integrate and present information from multiple sources with minimal direction.
Repeating this process hundreds of times during a four-year degree develops a skill set that cannot be acquired by on-the-job training. That is the reason employers increasingly demand a college degree: With the automation of many of the mundane tasks in the workplace, the remaining tasks require the college-level skills of integration, decision-making and communication.
The compartmentalization of labor pioneered by Henry Ford is a remnant of the past and will continue to be a shrinking piece of the labor pie.
The rampant emphasis on schooling as the primary method for obtaining an education is bordering on hysterical. People routinely pay for free information, for someone to motivate them to learn it and for potential access to employment options that are far from guaranteed.
I have held two teaching jobs that require degrees … and I don't have one.
For thousands of years human beings survived and thrived without formal schooling. They learned the way we all so easily learn — by following our actual interests and by learning from our mistakes.
The Times describes recent research on labor market "polarization," which incorrectly implies that "middle-skill" jobs are all disappearing over time.
If we define such jobs as those requiring more than high school but less than a four-year diploma, we find that many such categories of jobs have been growing. Some, like the construction crafts, have taken a beating during the recession but will likely return, to some extent, with the recovery. Others, like jobs for technicians in healthcare and many other sectors, have continued to grow, despite the downturn.
Many adults and youth, especially those with low incomes, still have much to gain from obtaining a range of certificates and degrees at community colleges and elsewhere below a B.A. It is wrong to undercut these gains and to suggest that such investments might not be worthwhile.
Harry J. Holzer
Chevy Chase, Md.
The writer is a professor of public policy at Georgetown University.
The virtues of Inglewood
Re "I live there, but do I belong?," Opinion, June 13
I can identify with some of Erin Aubry Kaplan's experiences living in Inglewood, but let me assure her that there are many progressive black and other folk who live there.
In the mid-'90s my husband and I considered moving to Palos Verdes Estates, believing that we could save money by sending our children to a superior public school system, but we decided that our Inglewood location was a plus.
It permitted us to pay off our mortgage in 16 years, own a vacation home, travel internationally, save money for retirement, remain close to our elderly parents, avoid a long commute to practically anywhere, educate our children in diverse public and private schools and send them to elite universities.
When my non-Inglewood friends come to visit, they are often shocked at our beautiful home and nice neighborhood and get an education on the normalcy of my hometown.
Of course, Inglewood has its challenges — but what community doesn't? Let's get together with other progressive folk, work to improve our city and always say we work and live in Inglewood with pride.
Caprice L. Collins
Perhaps after 10 years of marriage, a mortgage and three dogs, Kaplan could throttle back on the "Who am I?" part of her high school phase of life.
OK, so she feels a tug when asked to give up the name of her neighborhood. So do I when I'm with folks from places with better reputations, bigger homes and more "retail amenities" that make it "a destination." Get over it, or move to a place that impresses those who gather at your parties.
I spent 30 years employed by the citizens of Inglewood in their Police Department. Believe me, they held us accountable. They "barely complained" because they cared more about the predators who violated their neighborhoods than the burden of opinions of those who live in Ladera Heights, Hollywood or Leimert Park.
Inglewood is a resilient community and really does not need to apologize to residents who find it beneath the standards of neighborhoods with more salt air or ethnic bona fides.
Perhaps if Kaplan tried to view the world through a more neutral lens, as opposed to constantly pushing the complexities of life through a racial filter, she could come to terms with her need to blame others for her own insecurities.
The writer is a retired captain in the Inglewood Police Department.
Selling assets of the DWP
Re "DWP chief weighs sale of assets," June 15