Will the global economy help or hurt the next generation of Americans?

This is the question I am going to investigate in this paper. The global economy is the system pertaining to the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services around the globe. It is important that we understand the global economy because it is and will be affecting the way we learn, work and live. How all of these factors are affected will be discussed in the following paper. I take the position that the global economy will hurt the next generation of Americans.

One argument for this position is that our schools are not adequately preparing out tudents for the types of new work that will be required in the next generation. American schools are using teaching techniques that taught existed in the 1950’s. Textbooks date back to the early 1970’s. Requirements may have changed but our reaching techniques have not. Every year, students take the same courses with the same prerequisite: A good memory. True, they are teaching classes that are essential to get into a good college but are they teaching the skills that our future generation will need?

Are students going to be able to problem solve? Are today’s students going to be able to access tomorrow’s information? Our schools teach American students to be good at memorization. To be able to spit out recorded information. “You do have the knowledge but you are basically robots with skin; machines, tape recorders that teachers use to record their information. At the end of a chapter, they rewind you and press the ‘play’ button to see if you can repeat everything they said. “1 Also, our schools are not stressing the importance of math and science.

Because of this fact, foreign born workers such as engineers are taking over the jobs American workers could have. Our students need to be truly smart because memorized skills can only go so ar. Grades cannot always determine the real skills of the students. Anybody can receive a diploma but what do these grades really mean? Not much unless a student can apply their memorized skills for the new way of work. “Just possibly we have a surplus of graduates and a scarcity of real skills. “2 The improvement of our educational system, not the number of degrees we hand out, is the only way the next generation can thrive in the global economy.

An objection to this position is that our school system is preparing our students in the best way possible. First, we really can’t blame the schools for lack of supplies or pdated technology. Quite possibly our teachers are the ones who are not prepared and we certainly can’t expect schools to do everything. School is simply a basis for learning. “The true inputs to education are students, hard work, quality teaching and rigorous standards and parental engagement. When these are missing money and reorganization can’t compensate. 3 Also grades in some ways do represent how ambitious a student is about school and whether they get work done on time both of which are qualities of a good worker.

High schools in the United States are better than you think. ” In the most recent nternational comparison of reading, which was done in 31 nations, American kids finished second to Finland. “4 “We have an evolutionary process where we are getting better and better… “5 Yet the following argument can reply to the latter objection. Our schools may be better than we think but are they good enough to prepare our students for the new way of work?

What I mean by this is being able to use technology, apply real life skills and think on their own. Reading and math skills may be second out of 31 nations but what you may not know is “23% of Americans don’t finish high school compared to Japans 2%”6 Also, American students attend school the least amount of days (180 in fact) compared to other economically strong countries such as Britain’s 192 days, Japan’s 243 and Germany’s 290 days. “7 So, we have the highest drop out rate and we spend the least amount of time in school.

These numbers could explain why our students are behind intellectually with other countries. This could mean our economy may suffer as well. What can we do to improve this though? Already, more colleges are “lowering admission standards so more kids will attend”8. This means our students can pick their schools and school will compete for good tudents. If we use more technology this will enable students to access information that was not currently available. Businesses should also be involved in helping our schools because today’s students are tomorrow’s workers.

They are the future doctors, lawyers and engineers. “Schools aren’t day care centers or churches or scout troops. Their primary mission isn’t to teach our children how to drive a car, play football, cook meals, avoid pregnancy or prepare them for marriage, their main job is to teach them academic skills that will enable our kids to earn a living and contribute to a vital nation. 9 A longer school year with more emphasis put on math and science and an “increase in the intellectual challenge of courses”10 is the only way America’s students will be able to compete and succeed in the global economy.

A second position as to why the global economy will hurt the next generation of Americans is due to the arising and already prospering information revolution. due to the changes in technology, the next generation of Americans, “the people presently in their teens and 20’s, will be the first generation in America to have a lower standard of living than their parents. 11 The facts are all over, either we keep up with the changing world or get out of the way. Technology will pass them by.

New technology replaces workers or companies turn to corporate downsizing to save money”12 “American companies are moving production overseas using new technology to replace workers”13 The evidence is all there, every year more than a half a million good jobs are eliminated by the nation’s most prestigious companies. “Workers are going to have to improve their skills or get new ones altogether so they can stay ahead of the game”14 The gap between man and machine eeds to decrease. “By the year 2010 or 2015, computer literacy will be no more remarkable than telephone literacy today.

Nearly every skilled job will require it. “15 Because so many companies are downsizing and merging, this will result in a decrease of jobs and an increase in employment. “The price of beating overseas competition has been bitterly high; wave after wave of corporate downsizing layoffs, wage increases limited or foregone and the replacement of full time workers for part time or temporary hired hands. “16 Due top the fact that many people will be out of full time jobs this means more eople will be working two part time or temporary jobs. ” People holding two or more jobs constitute 6. % of the labor force; more than the unemployment rate. “17

Many workers complain this is exhausting. An auto plant worker in Michigan is being asked to do the work of two people, he says, “If somebody retires, all they do is take the work and give it to somebody else. “18 This is a similar situation for a worker at a nearby telephone company who says, “I’m doing the work of three people, by the time I get home all I have time for is a shower, dinner and a little sleep and then it’s time to do it all over again. 19 Another change that the information revolution has caused is the growing number of people working at home.

Home based businesses employ roughly 14 million people nationwide. Nearly 2/3 of these businesses employed, 5. 6 million were full time and 8. 4 million part time. “20 But whether you work for a company or are self employed, part time and temporary workers only draw wages not benefits. So this in the end, a loss of benefits and overworking will result in a lower standard of living for Americans which in turn can only hurt the next generation and the global economy. Yet an objection to this argument would be that the information revolution does not play a major role in our global economy.

The unemployment rate is the lowest its been in five years and downsizing “increases productivity or output per worker hour that has helped make the US number one. “21 The new work changes are creating jobs, not destroying them. “Despite the persistence of unemployment, the US is still creating about two million jobs per year net and that puts it well ahead of some of the competitors”22 “President Clinton likes to note that 2/3 of the nearly forty million Americans with no ealth care live in families with full time workers”23 So really full time workers might not be better off after all.

Jobs are growing and this is especially noticeable in Oakland county in Southeast Michigan. “Last year in 1994, 9,000 jobs were added and a U-M study predicts 47,000 more jobs will be created next year. “24 With all these new job creations our economy will only grow and succeed into the future. A reply to this objection though would be that despite all the job creations, people are still going to be working two or more jobs that have no benefits. The job creations may ound positive but it won’t change the standard of living that “generation X” is going to face.

Falling wages have put he traditional American family into play as the one earner middle class family becomes extinct. With children needing ever more costly education’s for ever longer periods of time, the cost of supporting a family is rising sharply just as earnings plunge. Mothers are going to have to work longer hours if the family is going to have it’s old standard of living. “25 This means that people are going to have to work twice as hard for the same quality of living. This also means a constant upgrading of skills necessary for peak job performance.

Important efforts should be better education and a committed and constant upgrading of skills. Our future is a more educated one rather than a cheaper one. Technological revolutions in the past have consistently led to gains in production, commerce, employment and living standards. “26 Yet if workers don’t improve their skills and constantly upgrade them, shrinking the gap between man and machine, this revolution will be detrimental to the welfare of our workers, their families and most importantly the global economy.

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