Building an Einstein, False Pretense, False Hopes: Where is the Accountability?

In American Dream Series, College Series, Life! on November 17, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Building an Einstein, False Pretense, False Hopes:   Where is the Accountability When a Woman Sues College for Unemployment and Disney Faces Lawsuit for Falsely Advertising Baby Products?

A year ago, lawyers threatened a class-action lawsuit against Disney’s Einstein series for deceiving parents into thinking that using their Baby Einstein products will make their babies smarter.  The result: Disney is offering refunds.

About three months ago, a woman sues her college for not helping her find a job once she graduated. The result: case is without merit.

While both Disney and colleges market their products as “educational,” Disney is now forced to refund its products for lack of  infantile intellectual results, while colleges are held unaccountable for unemployed alumni, who are often promised help from their college’s Career Development Offices.

Do not get me wrong; I am not necessarily supporting the woman’s case.  I am however, trying to make sense of accountability.  Who is responsible for the vague ambiguous idea of “education”?  Indeed, Ebony and I have met many a book-smart individual who lacked common sense.  So, what does it mean to be educated?  In what capacity does a person qualify as educated?  Better yet, what is an “educated” being supposed to look or act like?    Both Disney and college rely on the overall potential of their customers as their marketing gimmick.  Explicitly they both promise to produce more learned and capable humans, implicitly that their products will prepare students for the “real world.”

But no parent in their right mind really expects their kid to become an Einstein when they buy these products.  However, parents do expect their kids to get better paying jobs when they send them to college.

So why is Disney held accountable and college are not?

Perhaps,  the reason why colleges are not sued is because in their Mission Statements, they never advertise that their goal is to employ students in the workforce.   Maybe, Disney could have avoided their sad fate if they wrote a nice mission statement too.

In fact, many colleges mission statements are slightly flowery and vague, generally aimed to prepare students to graduate with a sense of social awareness.  Take Notre Dame University; they hope to graduate students with an “appreciation for … achievements of human beings … and concern for the common good that … becomes service to justice.”   Similarly, Grinnell College seeks to:

Educat[e] young men and women in the liberal arts through free inquiry and the open exchange of ideas … to graduate women and men who can think clearly …  speak and write persuasively and even eloquently, who can evaluate critically both their own and others’ ideas, who can acquire new knowledge, and … serve the common good.”

And if they fail?  If students don’t come out serving the common good or being open minded or persuasive?  Did the school fail? Should the students deserve a refund?

A lot of people think that going to college automatically means that they will get a better paying job.  Not in this market. BUT,  they eventually will, so is it right that colleges credit prominent individuals who become successful in their later years to them?  Likewise, are we judging too soon on the effects of Baby Mozart on Everybaby?

Regardless, with the rampant statistics correlating higher education with salaries, people are running like crazy for higher learning.  After hearing that veteran IT professionals are taking classes in Shakespeare, which have no relevancy to their jobs, so that they can complete their Associates Degree, I could not help but shiver at the wasted time and money.

Perhaps it is an incremental process and we have judged too soon whether a baby will become a genius.  In that sense, perhaps the essay I wrote regarding Hobbesian theory to Wuthering Heights will traverse its way into serving the common good.  And, perhaps, Freud and Jungian Psychology actually does help explain away and thereby relieve the abnormalities of humanity.

Ironically, it is these very statistics that perpetuate the system we live in now, where almost every decent paying job requires a B.A., which further demarcates and stratifies the privileged, who can afford an education, gain power, and make rules, against those that cannot.

So, we applaud Lawyers who want to break Disney’s monopoly on the baby market.  Perhaps we should applaud this woman on trying to break college’s monopoly on young adults?

If we are to move into the future, we need to credit other forms of education, other than the traditional four year degree, which is not a guarantee of anything. 

This one anonymous post expresses the frustration of many graduates:

Colleges regularly lie through their teeth about the job prospects for their degrees in the subjects they teach.

Imagine that after working your #$% off and getting yourself in debt for that degree, you suddenly find out that the job prospects for your degree were crap. And it’s not because the job prospects for your degree declined recently, but the job prospects have been crap for more than a decade.

If colleges and universities can be honest about job prospects for sociology, gender studies, art, history, then I see no reason why they should also be honest about job prospects for information technology.

As for:”The college prides itself on the excellent career-development support that we provide to each of our students, and this case does not deserve further consideration,”(Sarcasm) I bet when you ask the college, they don’t have problems with drugs too. (every college has).

We live in a world where status is determined by tiers and ranks and educated individuals validated by a paper of credit and their ability to create “open discourse.”

If that is the case, it’s not the college’s fault when we students graduate unemployed.  We just didn’t read the mission statement.  And in order to avoid problems, Disney should create one too.

What do you think?

Obsolete When All Are Employed welcome your comments!


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