It is totally bizarre that when people across the country cannot find adequate childcare anywhere, our policymakers think it ought to be a good idea to make it *harder* to become a childcare worker. Just completely, utterly backwards.

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Although you may be correct that being a child care worker does not require an AA degree, I think it's important to acknowledge the skill required to care for children at their most impressionable ages. This is a time of rapid growth in terms of sensory, social, language, and motor skills, as well as emotional development. At the very least caregivers without a degree should have had some amount of training and should be supervised by people who understand and can teach child development. They should be required, as in many other areas, to obtain continuing education. Taking care of small children is arguably the most important job there is, as it affects not just their subsequent intellectual abilities, but also their ability to understand and manage their emotions and behavior. You probably know a few people who could have benefited from learning more of that!

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The limited supply of child care is directly linked to the fact that the people doing the hands on work of providing care to children tend to make less money than the person serving you your McDonald's hamburger. Taking care of four infants all day is far more stressful and still somehow significantly less lucrative than most food and retail service jobs. Making the job prestigious and lucrative are necessary to solve the lack of day care spots to serve children. Raising the cost is the point because nobody is going to "apprentice" to earn terrible wages in a high stress environment. It might not need to be college credits but the field and incentives need to change dramatically.

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Feb 13, 2023·edited Feb 13, 2023

You have one passage where I think you mean something a bit different than what you wrote, but in a way that undercuts your point:

“College students develop cognitive skills that will serve them well in white-collar professions like finance, engineering, or marketing. But Goodhart also identifies two broad job categories where cognitive skills are less important.”

It isn’t that cognitive skills are less important for professions like plumbing, but rather that the *particular* set of cognitive skills that you learn in a university setting are less important there. But anyone who has worked with good plumbers will quickly realize that they have a set of cognitive skills that non-plumbers largely lack, skills that are absolutely vital to doing the job. And those skills are precisely what sets a good plumber apart from a bad plumber. But the key is that those are not cognitive skills you will learn in a university. I've known PhDs who couldn’t deal with the skills and tasks a plumber does.

Unfortunately — and I'm certain you don’t mean it this way — the passage sounds like it is saying it is OK for plumbers to be dumb and lack cognitive ability. And then it sounds like it could be saying that child care people don’t need good cognitive ability, when in fact it’s that university studies won’t provide what they need. Some people shouldn’t be near children at all because they don’t “get” children and their needs, but no amount of education will fix that, but all that tells us is that some “smart” people can be terrible with kids and some people who don’t go to college can be a whole lot lot smarter in dealing with kids.

This is a minor point in an excellent article, but it stuck out to me as something that went against your point and that could alienate some readers. I think just adding the words “those particular” (i.e., “…two broad job categories where those particular cognitive skills are less important”) would make clear what I understand your intent to be.

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