AN AREA WHERE AMERICA SPENDS MORE AND GETS LESS
The Myth That We Need More Education Spending
Many people believe that a lack of
funding is a problem in the education system. Yet as a percent
of GNP, America we already spends more on education than most other
Historically, education spending is at an all-time high. High
School graduation rates have barely budged since the 90's. In
1990, the average graduation rate was 73.7 %. By 2005 there was a
modest increase to 74.7%, despite enormous increases in spending. Mindlessly throwing money at
the problem is not working. We need reforms in resource allocation rather than a spending increase.
Specifically, we need reforms that reflect the technological needs of the
21st century job market. Part of this strategy involves implementing a
National Broadband Network, as many modern states have already done.
We need an education system oriented to job
skills. We also must have universal access to high speed broad
band so people can learn outside the confines of America's totally
inefficient education system. In particular, we need to end the
fairy tale that going to college is an automatic ticket to wealth.
Education System That Leaves Students Direly Unprepared For
The Job Market:
Even amidst a recession, there are an
jobs in America that are going unfilled. Many employers are
forced to train their own workers, because these workers do not
learn the needed skills at school. There is a dire lack of STEM
(Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)
skills in the employment pool. What is missing are workers with a specialized
skill set. The more specific the job requirement, the more
difficult it is to find an individual who can do the job. 67% of
American manufacturing companies report difficulties finding
qualified workers. Part of the problem is the cut backs in
vocational training at public schools. There should be more
information given on the opportunities provided by vocational
training and community colleges, rather than always pushing
children to go to four year colleges.
Student Debt Crisis and Delusions about the Value of College
The conventional belief that a
college education pays for itself is not always true. Part of this myth was pushed when the U.S. Census Bureau (later
endorsed by the Department of Education) stated that individuals
with a Bachelor's degree will earn 2.1 million dollars more in
their life time. Unfortunately, this number does not take
variables such as inflation, loan debt and the effects of an
economic downturn into account. In our current
economy, about half of all recent college graduates are unemployed.
Student Loans are now the larger than credit card
debt. To add to the insanity, student loan debt is the only debt
that is not dischargeable through bankruptcy laws. See
More On Our Student Loan Crisis Page.
Drastic changes are needed
in the way that the education system is structured. A start is
reorganizing the national budget to meet the needs of a
technologically growing world.
Competitors Are Out-pacing Us in Science, Technology and
It's no secret that China is rapidly out-pacing us in the
production of graduates with engineering and science degrees.
The United States degrees may have more bells and whistles than
other countries. But the engineering degrees in other countries
still teach their students the basics of what they need to know
to get the job done. If we want to retain jobs on American soil,
we need to teach our students real life job skills. Otherwise, we will see more jobs exported overseas
and less technological innovation at home in the decades to
FIRST UNIVERSITY NATURAL SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING DEGREES
National Broadband as a Right, Not a Privilege
As you can see from the chart above, the United States lags behind other countries in terms of internet access per citizen. National Broadband access must be considered a right in the same way that access to public education is a national right. Many Americans today still don't have access to the internet. For example, as many as 90% of Native Americans lack internet access (USA Today).
Not to mention that
the average U.S. internet speed lags behind other countries (Internet
Speeds Ranked by Country). Broadband can provide more
customized learning options and expand education beyond the
physical limitations of the classroom. A customized learning
program is essential for instilling children with the specific
skill set needed for the workplace.
Increase Access to Online Digital Content
The federal government should
increase the legal accessibility to online digital data, with
standards established by the U.S. Department of Education. Part
of this involves congress taking action to encourage copyright
holders to grant educational digital rights of use. The current
crackdown of available online content is detrimental to the
learning process on both a national and global level. If we are
to raise an educated nation of people, we need to stop this
online copyright war. An online collaboration of the world's
most brilliant minds will be critical to solving the pressing
issues of our time. Much of this content can act as a free
online library - making much of the expenses of an over inflated
educational system unnecessary.
Make Digital Literacy a Part of the Curriculum
Many schools still waste time
teaching children outdated and unnecessary skills that they will
never use in the workforce. In the classroom, teachers often
hear the bemoaned phrase "when am I ever going to use this" from
their students. But the students are right, they shouldn't have
their time (or parent's tax payer money) wasted on something they will
never use in their adult life. Instead, digital skills and
online literacy need to be incorporated into the curriculum at a
young age. For example, much time is still dedicated to
teaching children how to do cursive handwriting, even though it is a skill seldom used in the modern world.
Flexibility to Schools and Parents: Less Overhead Bureaucracy
Schools also need more flexibility to match the needs of the
Schools currently experience a lot of frustration because they can't move money between programs. They can only
spend the money where the federal government says they can.
There needs to be flexibility in funding that allows schools to
spend their money wisely.
For example, if a school is in an
area with a large Latino population, that school should be able
to make the choice to allocate more of their funds to teaching
Spanish Language and English as Second Language Skills. Or if
there is a local factory that provides most of the jobs in a
community, a school should have the option of allocating more
funds to classes that teach machinery skills.
In conclusion, what we need is a more
streamlined, less wasteful, education system that can rise to
the technological challenges of the 21st century workforce. If
we are to retain jobs on U.S. soil, we need to prepare the
workers of tomorrow to perform specific job functions. Key in
this strategy is implementing a National Broadband Network,
focusing on STEM skills, incorporating more digital media in the
curriculum and giving schools the flexibility to manage their
own funds. What we need is smart spending. Not more spending.
The following links provide more useful sites with regards to
Education Spending Versus Performance
Spending Produces Dismal Results
Broadband and Education
Go Unfilled Because Workers Lack Skills
Employers Have Difficulty Finding Qualified Workers
Global Trends in Science and Engineering
Careers Are Dead. Welcome To Your Low-Wage, Temp Work Future (Forbes, 8-30-12)