For the past few months, we’ve heard the value of a college education debated from various points of view, some challenging the idea that college pays off in the long run because the debt incurred in the course of obtaining a degree is economically crippling. Interestingly, the most recent studies to have been released do not concentrate on post-secondary education, but rather on the completion of high school.
Perhaps the reason for the emphasis on completing high school is due to the nation’s need for a better-prepared work force, coupled with the indisputable fact that most students will incur significant financial liabilities in attempting a college education. Moreover, as the country’s manufacturing sector is expanding, the need is great for students with some technical skills, but not necessarily the “people skills” that have driven the middle-management sector since the 1960s.
As Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, comments in the Oct. 9, 2012, issue of eSchool News, “We have two educational systems: one in wealthy suburban communities that can compete with the rest of the world, and one in the impoverished urban and rural systems that has defined the American public school system as a failure.” In other words, a superior college education is available for those who either have the resources to afford a university degree or who can shoulder the responsibility for the debt that accrues over the course of the educational experience. For everyone else, and that means a majority of our students, there is only a mediocre system of secondary education that fails to prepare students for real-world scenarios.
Not high priority
Domenech writes: “Unfortunately, education is not our No. 1 national priority as it is for many of the countries that outperform us on international tests. Education accounts for barely 4 percent of the federal budget. To be the best, well need transformation — and a much greater federal commitment to level the playing field between the haves and the have-nots.” ...