OPINION: The case for a Bachelor of Arts — what Betsy DeVos doesn’t understand about this “Noble Pursuit” Debunking the common wisdom
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has praised vocational schools and/or community colleges as “noble pursuits” for low-income people who can’t afford a four-year bachelor’s program.
On its surface, that sounds like a generous, open-hearted argument. But for those about to embark on the critical years after high school, when life missions are formed, and crucial networks of support are established, this argument, and the underlying lack of support for funding of higher education it implies, is not only short sighted. It’s bitterly limiting — and threatening. Especially to students who dream of studying the arts.
The common wisdom, including in the business and arts fields, is that employers don’t value an arts degree. My colleagues and I would beg to differ.
Twenty-five years ago, I enrolled in the theatre and dance program where I now teach. I had produced my first play at age fourteen at a local community theatre, and felt an immediate calling. The program’s focus on regional theatre of the era – with its hierarchical breakdown of roles (producer-director-designers and actors – crew) — offered little preparation for my first out of college job as the managing director of an arts nonprofit in which I was also a company member.