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What College Mean to Other America



What College Mean to Other America

What College Can Mean to Other America: By Mike Rose, Summary

In his article titled “What College Can Mean to Other America,” Mike Rose argues that cuts in education have produced several detrimental effects in America that include stunted job growth across the country, lowering the level of innovation and competitiveness of citizen in the global markets, and made it difficult to attain the goals of a college education. The author compares the situation that Americans are facing today to that faced by the Americas of decades ago and notes that although poverty has been a problem over the years, it has gotten worse in recent decades. Mike presents two major points in his essay. First, he points out that an increasing number of “young, marginally educated people” are drifting “in and out of low-pay, dead-end jobs” (Rose, 2011) Second, he points out that “poor are drifting further into the dark underbelly of American capitalism, a view that prompts him to ask the reader the rhetorical question “What kind of society do we want to become?”

Although not having sufficient evidence to confirm it, Rose (2011) supposes that “deep cuts in education, especially to programs and institutions that help poor people connect to school or work, will have disastrous long-term economic consequences that far outweigh immediate budgetary gains” and will have disastrous effects on the wellbeing of civil society (par. 12). According to him, these consequences include increased poverty and higher levels of unemployment. While referring to Michael Harrington’s article titled “The Other America” in which this particular author delved into the plight of poverty-stricken populations occupying the lowest spectrum of America’s capitalistic society characterized with high-income inequality decades ago, Rose argues that the mantra of the Obama administration of “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build” is pure rubbish (Rose, 2011). Rather than focus on these three, the administration should address the real danger facing America, which is the deeply ingrained and chronic joblessness in the country.What College Mean to Other America

Rose argues that the income inequality and poverty described by Harrington five decades ago have persisted until today and worsened over the years. Moreover, he argues that the “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build” slogan, which emphasizes the low cost of production, acquisition of more talent, and market expansion has led to the failure of the government to address mass unemployment that exists today among Americans. According to the author of the article, the tough economic situation that Americans face cannot be solved through technological innovation. His view is that more needs to be done to help disadvantaged Americans that lack education and employment “gain economic mobility”. Rose is of the view that relevant policy initiatives would serve to help various disadvantaged Americans. Unfortunately, only a few such policy initiatives exist today. The federal American Graduation Initiative, the most ambitious initiative according to Rose was brought to an end leaving a huge percentage of poor and low-income Americans out of reach by the smaller initiatives by the Department of Education and private foundations such as Gates and Lumina.

The main implication of the author’s argument is to make the reader and society, in general, realize the need to do more in supporting and improving education across the country even during economic hardship. Rose strongly asserts through his observations that the easiest way for the poor and low-income Americans to secure a job is through the provision of quality basic education in addition to providing occupational training programs. Practically, this calls for the government to ensure continued provision of supporting measures to achieve sustained and increased funding to all learning institutions and particularly community colleges, the majority of which serve low-income populations that are in dire need of educational advancement. At a time when the country is facing budget cuts, the author’s arguments are likely to produce the greatest impacts among the readers particularly if those readers include the policymakers in the country. For instance, Rose points out that failure to give priority to the education agenda could result in long-term negative economic consequences that would erode any budgetary gains from funds diverted to other areas of the economy that are deemed to be more crucial.What College Mean to Other America

Throughout his article, Rose had employed several rhetorical modes or strategies. To begin with, the author has effectively utilized rhetorical questions as a thought-provoking tool to make his audience reflect deeply about the issues presented in the article. The rhetoric question, “What kind of society do we want to become?” makes the readers think deeply about the impact of failure by the government to fund education for the poor and low-income Americans. Moreover, the author asks the rhetoric question “Will there be another Michael Harrington 50 years from now writing about an America that has a higher rate of poverty and even wider social divides?” This question, in particular, makes the readers reflect on the issues that Harington highlighted 50 years ago and the progress achieved by the country over that period. Second, Rose makes use of reference to big names as a strategy to persuade the readers to agree with his views on the meaning of college in America. The use of big names is a rhetorical strategy whereby an author refers to a high-profile person, normally an expert in a given field. In his article, Rose extensively quotes Michael Harrington in addition to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. It is clear from the article that Harrington is an expert in economic matters given that he is the author of a reliable resource that accurately described the poverty situation in America while Arne is an expert in matters of education.

While I agree with the author that poverty in America has been on the rise, the article prompted me to try and speculate what levels of poverty will be like in America in the next five decades. I believe that the essay can benefit uneducated and unemployed Americans if policymakers address issues of funding education for the poor and low-income Americans as highlighted by the authors. Although I do not have any personal experiences with issues highlighted in the essay, I have read that poverty has been on the rise in America and that today’s young people especially from middle-class families are likely to be poorer than their parents. With this information, the question that came to my mind is will America be poorer than it is today 50 years from now. What College Mean to Other America




Ross, M. (2011). What College Can Mean to the Other America. 11 September. Accessed July 13, 2020.