I get the message, of course. But, at the detail level, I note the exceptions to this broad claim:
JR: One of the biggest threats to preventing education is the parents. They’re always wanting their children to be smarter and better informed so they can do something with their lives.
That might have been true for Joseph Rowland's parents. It was certainly true for mine. But I have some broad counter-examples.
First, shortly after I moved here to Austin in 2011, I saw an advertisement for a Hispanic-American Science Festival. I took down the contact information and volunteered. I helped unload trucks and set up the floor. Then, I delivered dog-and-pony talks in front of hands-on experiments in electricity and magnetism in one place, and fluids and aerodynamics in another. I had the opportunity to talk to one of the sponsors. Hispanic himself, of course, he said that they have a real challenge getting kids into engineering programs in college or basically just through high school. What happens is that a bright kid - a boy; forget girls - is discouraged from more education because his father expects him to follow in the same trade, whether carpentry or auto mechanics. It's a modest living, but a sure living, and, frankly, the father often feels threatened by the thought that his son will become "better" than he is. On the same theme, some years later, I was working at the Texas Department of Public Safety as a technical writer, reviewing and editing contracts. I had spent most of the previous two years working as a security guard. (My degrees are in criminology.) So, I was chatting up the desk officer at the entrance and I recommended that she go to Austin Community College and get an associate's in criminal justice. She said that she was just looking into that now because she just received word that she was being promoted and transfered -- and she said, now that she was an adult living on her own, she could go to college without getting the criticism from her family who believe that girls do not need an education.
Before you blame Hispanic culture - though not without reason...
Henry Ford's fanstastic $5 a day wages at a time when an unskilled worker earned $1 a day set the stage for generations of parents who could not help their kids with their homework. In Detroit, you could get a good-paying job without an education. In fact, an education could be a detriment on the assembly line. Fast forward to today and you see why Detroit is what it is: four generations of people who needed no education.
We saw the same dichotomy in my own family. My mother was a social climber. Her sister settled. My brother and I were encouraged in education, but our cousins were not. Their father had a union job in a steel mill. He was a carpenter. They had a nice house, no doubt about it. Every strike, every lay-off, Uncle Harry was busting his butt with paneling or refinishing or something. But there was no need for the boys to get more education than trade school. I have another yarn about my cousin and what he taught me about my job as a technical writer, but for this discussion, I note that he had not been in a library since the one time they took the class in the 3rd grade. The other brother, our other cousin, became a sanitation worker. I understand: without sanitation workers a million doctors would not be enough, but the fact remains that two houses from the same family had two different views of education.