"The only way to get equality is to make sure there's equality in opportunity... equality in education." Where you get it doesn't mean as much as getting it... this is 'Education.' Join US on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/GeneralZinniAPW/
I'm your host, Adam P. Kennedy. Welcome to America's Place in the World, featuring retired four star ended states Marine Corps general and former U. S special envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Authority's Tony's any. We're looking at the world and America's place in it. In this episode, we're discussing the role of education. It's coming up right now. I know that's one of your great mantra. XYZ education, education, education. And I'm curious. Do you think once were sort of out of this situation here in this country in terms of rethinking education in America? Is there, you know how to improve education? Do you see that could be something that could come out of this.
You know, there's a fundamental thing that has to occur, and that has to be how we view education. Is education a right of privilege? What do we as a society and the mechanisms we have to provide education? How should we view that? I think we should view it as an investment. The investment into the future of our people are citizens are used is in getting them educated as much as possible. You know, the more educated you are, the less. You are in danger of somebody else challenging you because you will be superior in whatever it takes to defend yourself. Whether it's technology or diplomacy or whatever it is. And the more educated you are, the more advancers society is going to be in less susceptible to the problems than ignorance, Lack of education create. And it assures your future assures things like your well being, your health care and everything else cause you're working at the state of the art with those kinds of things. So if you view it is an investment, you know, like we view our military, we tell ourselves we need a strong, robust, globally capable military to sustain and protect our lifestyle. Well, we should have the same view to education. Then you're willing, toe funded and provide forward and to protect it and to ensure it when it's not accessible. When government doesn't do everything to provide it, it's akin to saying we're not gonna have a military. We're you know, we're going to see the military is something that you bare essentials. We're not going to so look to be toe, have a dominant military that ensures our survival in protection and way of life. I think until you change that attitude running around, saying we're gonna put more into it, we're gonna help with tuitions Will do all this other stuff. It has to be a fundamental shift in the way we view education.
We're on a side note. Do you see any of our leaders who are who want to take that type of approach?
I think a lot of leaders pay lip service to it. It's kind of like the environment. It's hard to see the degradation cause it doesn't hit home. It doesn't mean much to you that, you know an ice cap is melting or polar bears are going away or the sea rise in the upper body is causing the island to go away, not understanding that that's all gonna wash up on your shores at some point, you know, the rainforests are being burned down and not having a robust education system and all the problems that great just like when we started this discussion with with people that are uninformed and ignorant and the problems that creates, you're not going to really realize it until it hits home until you, you know, something negative is generated by that ignorance and on feeds in the things like racism that feeds into things like a generating, greater class distinctions and poverty and the implications, you know, until it blows up in your face. You know, you you don't appreciate it. It's the death of 1000 cuts, and you don't realize it until you're dead.
We'd started talking about in the role of the U. S. Military and I'm curious in terms of education. Do you think Thea the U. S. Military does a good job in terms of educating? It's, ah, people.
I think it's done a much better job since the transformation of our military. After Vietnam, we put a great deal more value on most education. Professionally, the military is a profession and external education. It goes toward your ability toe get promoted to succeed in your profession if you demonstrate a desire and a need an opportunity to get an education. One of the greatest things that came out of World War two was the G I Bill, and in effect, the G I Bill allowed us to create a much more greater educated population which allowed us to prosper during the Industrial Revolution in this country and the post war development. We took all those young men and some cases women back then more so now. And we not only valued education in the military, and later, after Vietnam developed a professional military education system, we we put value on them seeking education and then gave them the means with the G I bill. So the military does, I think, now value that. It's not a cannon fodder military, and it hasn't been. And I think every ever since the 19 eighties have been increasingly more emphasis on education in the military, most within it and outside of it, so that you bring in the benefits of education and to give people the means to do it.
Do you think that there's something that mainstream America could learn from the military in terms of education?
Yeah, we should reward education. I you know, I love these ads on TV by some of these online universities, community colleges and all. I mean, we never had those in the kinds of numbers we have now, but access education is greater. There's still issues about affordability and how that needs toe work. but you're creating ah culture. Now you just look on it where you see the advertisement shows some young person that wants to better themselves. And so it begins taking courses and and that sort of thing. So I think there's been a gradual rise and appreciation for the importance of it. What? I think it needs a lot more emphasis in. Like I said, they have a fundamental relook at how we view education.
If you had to rate the difference between being in a classroom with a professor versus on online education, how would you rate to two, sir?
Well, I think there's in some ways they're apples and oranges in some ways, and I've I've had both currently. Now I'm finishing up my doctor, and it's basically been online. I did a one of my three masters was a hybrid part residence, part online. The other two masters were residents, as was my bachelors. And so I see benefits from either side. You know, doing it at your own pace in your own house on your own time has a lot of advantages, especially you got other things going on in your life. It allows you to engage when you know you feel they're the most productive, whole idea of the classroom, with somebody standing up there in charge and directing in and lecturing Whatever the means used isn't necessarily the best form of education. Not all people learn best from that. I think technology now has given us a much greater opportunity toe be educated through many different means and in many different places at many different times, there is an advantage that coming together and being in a body where you can share ideas where you can socially interact, I think there's value that in an academic setting. If you ask me about the best form, I would say it would be a hybrid, a combination of the two, which would be the most effective we have seen. Now, many of the of the college courses where students take a year often go out into the world somewhere Teoh see touch, feel what? Whatever there, their discipline is, um, learned about it toe have experiences outside the classroom. So I mean, I think education is going to escape from totally being bound into the classroom that's happening now, and so the best that you can get out of each of these forms would be the ideal.
I know you. Every year there's rankings about the educational levels of Children around the world. In your mind, Do you see any countries who are really doing a phenomenal job in terms of educating?
I think that our university system in the U. S. Is still the best. That's not to say there are others that do well and come up pretty close, But I think basically across the board, we have the best university system. I do worry about our secondary education. I do worry about our high schools in our middle schools. I think we're losing something. They're losing great deal attraction there, and that's where I would focus more of our attention because that's where you create the thirst for education. That's where you create the appreciation for education. That's where you form in young people's mind, the value of the education going forward and to pick and choose what they might initially follow. I think that we could do much better at that level, specially in some parts of our education system, like inner city schools and other places where it may be dreadful the conditions there that they that teachers have to work under.
Yes, Well, I'm curious. You talked about universities with and getting talking about a hybrid could you ever envision at the elementary, middle school and high school levels that there could be a hybrid?
Yeah. Yeah. And I think one thing you could do is go to year round school, which doesn't mean you have. You don't have blocks that you're off. What we do is we educate for several months and we shut down the entire education and kids go often. You don't have to come back and get re adjusted and reoriented more and more. I see students taking courses over this summer or getting involved in things that air more educational. So,
know, a lot of that could be blended in a way where there's online education, that sort of thing that's going on 365 days. I mean, not every day. I mean, you certainly would have time off in that sort of thing. No, we provide that flexibility.
So you had talked about the inner cities and obviously in many cases, the deplorable situations that air there is the only way to resolve. That is what you just talked about earlier is about this idea of investing.
Yes. Yeah. I mean, I think that's the most important place to invest you don't want. We don't want to hold large segment of our society that fails in the middle of dreadful education system and then struggles for the rest of their lives trying to find a place that they've never have been able to develop their own skills to meet in society. I like to see education as a right. I know. And we do everything to provide for that right to be fulfilled. Like I said, we're not trying to create all, you know, doctorates in physics. Education goes into training and preparation for, you know, even the things that we need the professions that can obviously people can do well in and enjoy, you know, find interest in it isn't all about stem.
All right, How much of all that is also involved in ah, revolves around race? Do you think, sir?
Oh, I think a large amount of it it's just like will be talked about in terms of this, uh, this pandemic. It's hit harder on a group of people that have had less opportunity because of racism or because of the traps that race and ethnicity and other things put them in terms of class, structure and all. So the only way you're going to get equality is to make sure there's a quality and opportunity. Equality and education, Equality and the ability toe have a voice in government. So it goes across the board. You can't have part of our society. That scene is unequal because you lost the productivity from that. First of all, it's wrong, but secondly, you've lost the productivity. It's It's just like the role of women that is starting to come into its own now more than ever, 50% of our population we were not drawing the productivity and the promise and everything that they could provide because they were denied that sort of opportunity. That sort of equality and the same thing could be said for because of their status because of their race, color, creed, ethnicity would ever, you know, aren't given the same opportunities.
My oldest son just got accepted into in y you with master's program and total cost with room and board and everything is like, $140,000. And, you know, we're have some very proud that he was accepted but went
So I'm curious. Do you think for young people in terms of debt, student debt, what's the threshold? I mean, is it Ah, is it a good idea for a young person to take out $100,000 in loans to get a degree, Do you think?
Well, obviously not. I think having, uh, tremendous debt, starting your life out very difficult to manage and sets people behind before they even get a chance to establish themselves, you know, and maybe begin a family and all sorts of things that are affected by that. How do we, uh, deal with that? Well, we've had obviously candidates and say, Well, the government's gonna take it roll. Everybody gets free tuition along with everybody else. Well, maybe that's not affordable. Is there a way the debt could be low interest stretched out longer. Is there a way that there could be other ways that that student pays back that well through community work and other things that that person might do after school that can be counted? His credit toward that and benefits of society as a whole and obviously has an impact on drawing lesson on taxes because of the work they dio. So I think we have to be more imaginative about this.
Yeah, well, certainly from a parent's perspective. Yeah, I I agree.
I mean, if you are going to If you're gonna need $100,000 to complete your degree, then I think you could say, Well, look, it could be a combination of loans, low interest spread out and a combination of community service credits that would reduce that. Let's say you went into the military for three years. You would incur X number of credits towards your tuition if you went into the Peace Corps. If you in turn some places. If you did volunteer work, that was listen, is credit eligible? I mean, I think there are a lot of ways is this could work to encourage people to do it and not put a burden on them. That's unbearable.
Do you think in terms of when you look at our are quote unquote best universities? Do you think there really is a huge disparity, or is there a huge disparity between the Harvard's and the Stanford's in the University of Chicago's versus more middle of the road schools or even community colleges. I mean, is there what kind of disparity do you think there is, sir, In terms of
prosperity in the long run, you know? I mean, here's my experience. I've had experience in the academic world, in the corporate world, in military, world, diplomatic and world. So I see it. A four star general, I see a CEO of a major company. Well, they don't know have Harvard degrees. You know, some of them went to Stony Brook, you know, or someplace like that. The education. Yeah. I don't get hung up on where you got your education. That may mean a lot for your first job, but after a while, you're gonna prove yourself through Ah, through what you contribute on what you dio. I mean, hopefully we have a meritocracy here, but, you know, there was a study done. Well, yeah, a professor that headed up the MBA program at Stanford, and he followed his students to see who were the most successful. He found no correlation with great point average with those that reach the top, you know. So, you know, even though they might have had started out in an exceptional academic institution, they're successful. This measured in great point average wouldn't necessary that I you know, there were 24 star generals in my class of secondly tenants, and neither one of us went Teoh Harvard or ah, a military academy or anything like that. So the education and where you get it, it doesn't mean as much is getting it. And I think you could find somebody come out of a small college that learned Mawr receive more benefit personally because they invested more in the education that somebody might have gone to, ah, Harvard or Stanford That just went there to get the get the degree with that name on it that might help him, Like I said for their first job. But after that, you pretty much you're in the system, we gotta earn it.
That begs the question. Then are those schools sort of pulling the wool over eyes? I mean, it is a sort of a smoke and magic show that that they're putting together because this is obviously such a huge emphasis on those institutions.
Well, here's what I would say to you. Just take just take the president. Since, uh, let's say World War Two, let's say from Franklin Deborah, Governor Roosevelt Now and do a little homework. See where they got their degrees now they became president of the United States, you know. What did it mean? Go to the Fortune 500 companies and look at the C suites. The CEO Seo's I don't see where their degrees came from. During the McNamara era. We had the whiz kids, all the Harvard graduates, that we're gonna analyze the Defense Department to death. And we were gonna win wars on analytics. A bomb? Terribly.
You know, LBJ, who went to a small school in Texas, did mawr in terms of legislation than the Howard boys did that preceded him, you know? And we're in the government. I'm not that hung up. Maybe others are on the institution. I don't think we went diploma mills out there, but that's not what I'm talking about. But I think there are a lot of fine universities and colleges that there may be far more affordable that provide you with more than a sufficient education and give you a great base to develop from.
What's the argument? Then? That may be the professors at these elite schools are better, Do you?
You know, I think we need him. And I hate to say this because they didn't probably get a lot of blowback, but I think we need a look at that whole system, you know? How much work do they do or do thes training assistant provide the th you know, how many papers are they grade? Are they more involved in their own publishing and development? How many there are on tenure and of, you know, cease to produce? If I go into a small college and I find a hungry, dedicated professor and he or she is really invested in their students, I think I can get as much as someone who's now laid back And, uh, you know, counting the royalties from their books and having some graduate students, it's a D A grade. Their papers.
Yeah, well, no, that's that's interesting. You know, that's a good That's a good point. It was just This is fascinating, our take on those elite schools and, um, you know, my mother taught at Harvard for a number of years and you know him and at Berkeley and at Stanford and so on. But, uh, yeah, I think you know, certainly the I think you're right. In terms of you know how hungry you are. If you're a student or a teacher, Professor, if you're hungry, then those are the kind of people you want to be around, right?
And if they're dedicated, if they see their role is, you know, defined by what they impart. Look, we have all been the schools. Were you just connected some teachers better than others. You just feel that teacher has your best interests at heart more than others, where you feel that teacher understands or knows more than the others and imparts that understanding in that that knowledge in the most effective way? I don't think it is. The basis is on where you go. I've had chairs at Cornell and Berkeley and Duke and other places, and I've had him in small schools to I looked at the faculties and around the faculties. And, you know, you have that the teacher that is the pied Piper that everybody gathers around that want to be with and he invests his time behind what's just in the classroom and in connecting to his students. And the real measure is after those students graduate, how much they still stay connected to those professors homeless. Those professors remain engaged with their former. To me, that's a real mark of the effect of ah, of a teacher scholar relationship.
Yes, you would talk to, but you have, what, three masters? You're working on your PhD in terms of
my dissertation coming right down to the
end. Very exciting. Very exciting. Ah, do you, in terms of how you would rate those different experiences, were they especially with the Masters? Would you grade it all sort of the same in terms of your experience or was one different than the other,
each of them with different We're different, and each was different. And, you know, they were obviously such a variety of disciplines. So it would be like comparing apple or orange, and we're different time in my life. So but on and they were different methodologies, you know, uh, like I said, one was a resident. One residency, one was hybrid resident online, and the other was, you know, pretty much online. Uh, So you know it. The forms were different, that disciplines were different. The institutions were different. I enjoyed them all very much.
One final question in terms of the role of Department of Education or its its past role. What role should that have?
I think you know it should be a standard setter. Uh, it should be a force for ensuring equality throughout the education system throughout the country. It should be a force for standards for our teachers out there and their level of confidence and also their livelihood. And there everything from their pay to their benefits. Something we do horrible job in terms of the image of our teachers. To me, they should be revered and regarded very highly and rewarded very highly. We don't we don't do enough for our teachers and they have to be dedicated. You'd like to see people that maybe would have gone that course but can't because of, you know, financial reasons and others have to choose another profession and we lose talent. So I think that's another role they can play the quality of our institutions monitoring our institutions. I think looking get institutions that you know, Bill prestige through inflated reputations or, ah, the fortunate situation. Having a high endowments and so jack up there their tuitions just because they can and help the institutions that provide quality graduates but need more help because they don't have an elite alumni, you know? So I think there's a number of roles they can play. And, like we said before focusing on inner cities and places where education system is left money, what we need to do to bolster those up.
What's your current take on the current secretary, Betsy DeVos,
Unless he's very controversial. I haven't followed it that much. But, you know, obviously I think there's been a lot of controversy about how she's approached the role, but that that's true been true of the last several secretaries of education. You know, you know it. Like I said, my backside, how you view education. I mean, the Department of Education. Although it's a Cabinet position, does it have the same prestigious Department of Defense or Department of state? You know, Homeland security, because it should have. Like I said, it's an investment in your future. You know, in your Children and your Children show budgets, probably
like the differences
the way to thank you for joining us. Find us on Facebook as General Zinni, A P W and online at a p k c g dot com board slash ap I'm Adam P. Kennedy on This Is America's place in the World.