back to article Xerox CEO's cure for US educational woes: 'Cool' and cash

The Chairman and CEO of Xerox believes that one way to fix the US educational system is to make science, technology, engineering, and math "cool". Another is money. "We have to celebrate the things that we desire," Ursula Burns told her audience at a keynote panel Wednesday morning at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las …

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Sports?

You don't need to put down the basketball (or any other sport). Athletics raises mental awareness and energy levels. What you need to do is turn off the TV, put down the console, Facebook or any of the other real time wasters.

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RE: Sports

I don't think the point of the article is to say "don't do sports". It's more like "be reasonable about what you want to be". It's not reasonable to expect to be a pro basketball player. The mathematical odds against that are pretty great. The odds against being a scientist are extraordinarily low -- an interest in things of science and a reasonable aptitude for science are pretty much all that's required.

That being said, talking sense into kids sometimes, especially when shattering their dreams of becoming the next Shaq, is completely useless.

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Not to mention the stigma.

The words "dweeb", "geek", and "nerd" still carry significant amounts of stigma that dates back decades. Basically, unless a nerd can show up a jock in a real-life life-or-death matter and garners national/international attention, I don't see that stigma breaking anytime soon.

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Burns gets +1 for trying to get kids interested in studying,

-5 for blaming the problems on budgets. Schools (at least in the US) have more money flowing through their coffers today than at any previous point in history. It's just that they are also the most wasteful of government institutions in the way they spend it. Yeah, I've heard the horror stories about the teacher spending a grand or two out of pocket for supplies they think they need for their classroom in elementary school. But that money should be found elsewhere in the budget.

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Want to lower tuitions? Get the government out of guaranteeing loans. College institutions have no incentive to lower costs because government just pays for whatever they ask for. 50+ years ago, college could be paid by a normal blue collar worker... how? there was no guaranteed loans.

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Anonymous Coward

Science technology engineering and math won't help US education

There is an enormous glut of well educated college graduates in the US. We need more people educated in useful skills such as plumbing, construction, masonry, auto repair etc. What would help the education system is fairness and equality -doing away with racist and sexist policies that promote based on ethnic background and gender.

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Anonymous Coward

Ursula the Hypocrite

Ursula says one thing and does another. Last year she cut Xerox's engineering budget severely yet again and demonstrated just how much she values engineers by transferring 600 out of the 3600 permanent engineering staff to Indian out-sourcer HCL since she'd rather pay for cheap, inexperienced Indian graduates than US, British and Dutch engineers with the institutional knowledge who know the products.

In Wilsonville, Oregon, last year she tried to get many of the low-payed manufacturing staff to take huge pay and benefits cuts (up to 50% in some cases).

This is the woman who claims to be an engineer - who worked her way up the company from humble beginnings in the face of adversity. Every year during the recession Xerox broke even or made a profit, but still the cut-backs come. "Good is the enemy of great."

Seems more like a cynical bean-counter to me.

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I think there is also a serious issue in the US education system with how long they put off study concentration. 3 years into university programs and students are often still taking 'general studies' courses and non-elective courses unrelated to their degree field. It doesn't help that primary education doesn't teach any practical skills and spends most of it's time on rote memorization of theory and facts that are needed only for schooling but inapplicable to real-world use.

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"You can do this, for sure."

Such a grievous case of false hope will only serve to increase their sense of entitlement. Today's youth are not guaranteed jobs, not even flipping burgers, even if they do work hard.

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The problem is subsidies, plain and simple.

If school was about increasing your earning power in the market by investing in an education, then students would follow the money into math/engineering/science degrees. However, school has been heavily subsidized and people have been told they need to go to college, so now students are no longer concerned with maximizing that return on the educational investment dollar. They are getting 4+ year degrees for liberal arts jobs because it is easier to graduate, and since it is not entirely their money they are spending there is less reason to spend it wisely.

Make people pay for their education, and people will want to maximize the value of their dollar. Problem solved.

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OTOH...

...if the costs WITHOUT subsidy are still too high (as has been the complaint in the past), then not enough people go, and you still end up short. There is already a good degree of stratification in society, and that doesn't tend to be healthy since that leads to class warfare.

Put it this way. How many people would be able to actually own a home if they had to come up with the entire amount in unencumbered cash up-front? Keeping in mind that domicile is rather required these days, so if you're not in a home, you're likely paying rent elsewhere, reducing the money that can be put away for such a huge expense.

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Subsidies and student loans aren't the same thing. Your comparison would be closer to buying a house only if the government paid the first 50% of the cost of the house for you.

Incidentally, subsidizing school just results in more expensive tuition, for the same reason that insurance keeps lofting the cost of healthcare in this country. Look at the tuition inflation of "state" schools vs smaller schools and the trend is very evident. Again, why worry about costs when it isn't your money being spent?

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