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Move over, Hester: Speaker Mikey's in town...

Remember Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Puritan society in his novel, The Scarlet Letter?  Poor Hester Prynne violated the laws of the church, which meant that she broke society’s laws, too.  At the beginning of the novel, the reader joins Hester as she leaves the safety of the town prison and makes her way back into the society that jailed her.  Reading the book for the first time in the 11th grade, I had a hard time understanding how, in a free society, the religion of one group could also form its judicial system.  That makes the laws of God the same thing as the laws of man.   Separation of church and state was also an 11th grade U.S. history lesson, so we students figured no more Hesters could be jailed for breaking the laws of her religion .  Or so we thought.  We fought a war 250 years ago to separate the colonies from a king who was not only ruler of the government but leader of the church.  A quick walk through British history shows what a mess that ideal leads to:  remember Henry VIII

The Fed Reveals What We Value

Ready to wonk out with the Federal Reserve ?

As you know, the Federal Reserve has many roles including economic research.

On February 10, 2023, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York updated their report on "The Labor Market for Recent College Graduates."  One section includes a sort-able chart detailing the major of the new college graduate, unemployment and underemployment rates, median wage in early and mid-career, etc.

We are going to talk about major, median wage early career and median wage mid-career. 

Let's look at the majors of new college graduates with the top ten early career median wage.


Major

Median Wage Early Career

Median Wage Mid-Career

Chemical Engineering

$75,000

$120,000

Computer Engineering

$74,000

$114,000

Computer Science

$73,000

$105,000

Aerospace Engineering

$72,000

$112,000

Electrical Engineering

$70,000

$109,000

Industrial Engineering

$70,000

$100,000

Mechanical Engineering

$70,000

$105,000

Miscellaneous Engineering

$68,000

$100,000

Business Analytics

$66,000

$99,000

Civil Engineering

$65,000

$100,000

    
Please notice that this list is dominated by engineering, computer science and business analytics.

Now let's look at 12 out of the bottom 18 majors that earn the least as a new graduate.

Major

Median Wage Early Career

Median Wage Mid-Career

Early Childhood Education

$40,000

$43,000

Elementary Education

$40,000

$48,000

Special Education

$40,000

$52,000

Miscellaneous Education

$40,000

$56,000

English Language

$40,000

$65,000

Liberal Arts

$40,000

$63,000

Biology

$40,000

$75,000

Earth Sciences

$40,000

$70,000

Anthropology

$40,000

$65,000

Sociology

$40,000

$61,000

Fine Arts

$40,000 

$65,000

Health Services

$40,000 

$60,000


Others in the bottom 18 that I did not include in this chart include:  Performing Arts (6th form the bottom), Leisure and Hospitality (5th from the bottom), Family and Consumer Sciences (3rd from the bottom), Theology and Religion (Bottom), Psychology (4th from the bottom) - all of these start at median wage of $40,000 or less.

The bottom list is heavily weighted by education.  

What does this report tell us about our societal values ?

I know what the Republicans think.  

In the 2023 General Assembly session, Sam Rasoul (D) introduced HB 1566 - Public school teachers and other Standards of Quality-funded positions; compensation.  This bill requires the Commonwealth to compensate its public school teachers at a rate that is competitive, defined in current law as at or above the national average teacher salary, in order to attract and keep highly qualified teachers.

What happened to this bill ?  It was left to die in the House Appropriations Committee and did not even get a vote before the full House much less the Senate.

Jeffrey Bourne (D) introduced HB 2316 - Sales and use tax, local; additional tax authorized in all counties & cities to support schools.  

What happened to this bill ?  It was left to die in the House Finance Committee with all 5 Republicans voting to kill it and all 3 Democrats voting to pass the bill.

Let's answer these questions (hint - the answer is the same for all of the questions):
  • Who is the majority in the Virginia House of Delegates ?
  • Who had proposed that all students who want to participate in school sports undergo a physical exam of their genitals to make sure they are a biological boy or girl ? (HB 1387).
  • Who had proposed removing all criteria for home schooling children ? (HB 1454)
    • Removes the current criteria:
      • Holding a high school diploma, 
      • Being a teacher of qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education, 
      • Providing the child with a program of study or curriculum that may be delivered through a correspondence course or distance learning program or in any other manner, or
      • Providing evidence of the ability to provide an adequate education for the child by which a parent is permitted to provide home instruction for his school-aged child. 
  • Who wants to defund public schools by diverting public school money to private school use ?  (HB 1508)
  • Who defunded the schools through a $200 million "miscalculation" and not even attempt to replace it ?  Perhaps this money could be replaced by reducing the Virginia Corporate tax cut in the proposed budget this year.
  • Who has been in favor of banning books ?
    • Madison County, Virginia has recently banned 21 books from school libraries:
      • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
      • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
      • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
      • Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi (including Defy Me, Ignite Me, Restore Me, Shatter Me, Imagine Me, and Unravel Me)
      • Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
      • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
      • Sula by Toni Morrison
      • Love by Toni Morrison
      • The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice
      • Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
      • Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
      • Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
      • Bag of Bones by Stephen King
      • 11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King
      • It by Stephen King
      • Furyborn by Claire Legrand
Let's re-assess out educational priorities and support our teachers.

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Move over, Hester: Speaker Mikey's in town...

Remember Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Puritan society in his novel, The Scarlet Letter?  Poor Hester Prynne violated the laws of the church, which meant that she broke society’s laws, too.  At the beginning of the novel, the reader joins Hester as she leaves the safety of the town prison and makes her way back into the society that jailed her.  Reading the book for the first time in the 11th grade, I had a hard time understanding how, in a free society, the religion of one group could also form its judicial system.  That makes the laws of God the same thing as the laws of man.   Separation of church and state was also an 11th grade U.S. history lesson, so we students figured no more Hesters could be jailed for breaking the laws of her religion .  Or so we thought.  We fought a war 250 years ago to separate the colonies from a king who was not only ruler of the government but leader of the church.  A quick walk through British history shows what a mess that ideal leads to:  remember Henry VIII