Our Failure to Value Education
CNN just posted an article on student loan debt that got me in the mood for another blog post. You can read the article here.
According to the artcile 2010 grads are leaving school with $25,250 in student loans and have merky job prospects at best. As a grad school graduate a little over a year ago ($98,000 in debt) with a sister in undergrad right now I can sympathize with the position these students are in.
I think it's an opportunity to examine the place education has in our society. Part of my vision of the American Dream is the concept that we have equal opportunities to succeed in this country. Nothing is ever truly equal but the rising cost of education has created a disparity that's simply unacceptable in a nation that is supposed to be the best in the world. Nevermind that IF you get good grades, or IF you're a minority, or IF you try really hard you could get help, there should be no ifs involved.
Anyone who has the desire and competence to go to college should be able to without putting themselves or their families in financial perril in the process. My Dad tells stories of spending $500 per semester for a state school college education. College wasn't a question of IF at that rate.
I came from modest means and as an engineering grad I had the means to support my debt coming out of undergrad. No need to feel bad for me, but what about my Little Brother (Big Brothers Big Sisters) who has NO means to pay for school, a support system that doesn't know how to game the system (for education), and mediocre grades at best. Do we just want him falling through the cracks?
What I bring up is that education isn't a dollars and cents game, it's an investment in the kind of country we want to have. Each of us paying a few extra bucks in state taxes or federal taxes to help make sure that the youth of tomorrow can afford to educate themselves is better than any stock investment advice I could give.
I would rather spend the money on that than a war, a jail, or welfare if these kids don't become educated.