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Billionaire Bloomberg Wants 'So-So' Students to Skip College and Become Plumbers

Sure, become a plumber if that's something you're passionate about, but in the 21st century, we're not cogs in the machine.


President Obama may have the goal of America having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, but in New York City, that idea's sprung a leak. According to Mayor Michael Bloomberg if you're not at the top of your class you should probably forego higher education in favor of becoming a plumber. Indeed, the New York Daily News reports that last Friday on his radio show Bloomberg added fuel to the "Is a college degree worth it?" debate by saying that for the average student, becoming a plumber makes more financial sense than going to college.

A plumber doesn't waste "four years spending $40,000, $50,000 in tuition without earning income," said Bloomberg. They also don't leave school with tens of thousands of dollars of debt and can make a pretty good living while they're on the job. Added bonus: your job as a plumber (or car mechanic, or electrician) can't be outsourced.

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Studio Schools Remix Vocational Education for a New Generation

Studio Schools show how old-school auto shop classes are being replaced with college-and-career preparation.


As the emerging 21st-century economy demands a better-prepared workforce, vocational education is making a comeback. But old-school industry training programs our parents remember are being replaced with schoolwide efforts that directly partner with local businesses to ensure students learn real life skills. One such model, the Studio School, has spread to 10 U.K. high schools over the past two years, turning bored students accustomed to earning D's and F's into high achievers.

Geoff Mulgan, director of the Young Foundation—which helped create the Studio School—gave a quick summary of their model in a recent TED Talk. A full 80 percent of instruction, he said, takes place outside of the classroom. Students work on commission for businesses, NGOs and other organizations, allowing them to learn while completing on-the-job, practical projects. The schools, which enroll a maximum 400 students each, also assign each student a personal coach to help ensure they're successful.

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The Upside of the Debt Debacle: Taking the "Long View" Seriously

The debt crisis was nothing but political theater, but wouldn't it be great if more issues got the "think of your grandchildren" treatment?


Throughout the excruciating debt negotiations, there has been a particularly loud cry from conservatives to "think of our grandchildren." Countless politicians, most of whom will be dead by the time the debt limit creates a real fiscal crisis, are set on dealing with a problem that might materialize in 2070. But as GOOD pointed out a few days ago, the debt deal didn't actually address our long-term problems at all.

Even though this forward-looking view has been little more than political theater, there's an opportunity to apply it to thorny problems that could seriously use a long-term plan of attack from lawmakers. In a recent and all-too-rare moment of government foresight, the Department of Health and Human Services decided to make birth control free under the new health care law. It's a move that won't just save money in the long term, but also could help the world's overpopulation problem. Here are a few more issues that could benefit if politicians took the long view:

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