The Occupy Wall Street movement has a new face today. His name is Joe Therrien and he personifies perfectly the people who are blaming big corporations and banks for his plight in life.
Joe is a former New York City School District drama teacher. Joe didn't lose his teaching job due to reduced enrollment or because his union decided it was more important to force the district to cover the cost of Viagara as part of the health insurance package. Instead, Joe was upset a few years ago that No Child Left Behind was forcing New York schools to focus on unimportant subjects like Math, English and Science--so he quit. Instead of forming his own acting troupe or setting up shop giving acting lessons or tutoring the children of New York's elite, Joe chose to go back to school to pursue his "passion"--puppetry.
After taking out $35,000 in student loans over three years of study, Joe finally earned his Masters of Fine Arts degree in puppetry.
Unfortunately for Joe, there isn't a whole lot of demand for Master Puppeteers in today's economy--and he can't find a job. So he now spends his days at the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, demanding that his student loan debt be forgiven--while building giant puppets that he hopes will "open people up to this new cultural conciousness."
I would like to a study on the degrees earned (or not earned) by those currently in default on their student loans. I'd be willing to bet that the number one field of study will be an MBA--which for about two decades was marketed as the golden ticket to business success--until everyone and their dog got one, thereby watering down the value of the degree. After that, you can almost guarantee will be a long list of humanities and social sciences. That is due in large part to years of kids being encouraged to "follow your passion" when it came to choosing a degree program and a career path. Educators were so sure that someday there would be a huge demand for Womens Studies majors and Sociologists.
Now that reality has set in for that generation of "passion followers", even the most liberal education officials are admitting that four-year degrees really aren't that necessary to succeed in life. That's why Wisconsin Public Instruction Secretary Tony Evers was touring a Kaukauna manufacturing plant this week to learn about their apprenticeship programs--which only require high school diplomas. After the tour he told us in the media that "maybe we need to do a better job of steering kids into technical fields of study." Unfortunately, no members of the Oshkosh School Board were in attendance for that statement--as it looks at forming a Performing Arts Charter School--where the focus will be on music, singing and acting. As we say on twitter: "facepalm".
In the movie Caddyshack Judge Smails--played brilliantly by the late Ted Knight--tells caddy Danny Noonan who is whining about not being able to afford to go to college: "Well, the world needs ditch diggers too". When Brian Doyle-Murray wrote that line, he meant it as a shot at the attitude of the country club elite in the 1980's. But as those finding out all that student loan debt isn't paying off like they thought are now learning the hard way--the world really does need ditch diggers. Or at least more than puppeteers.