Monday, July 20, 2015

Free college education? Hmmm....lemme think on that.

I can remember my dad telling the story on more than one occasion of how there were only 11 grades of public school when he was a kid back in the 1930's.  I don't know if that was universal nation-wide or just in his small-town school district.  Regardless, according to him it was a bit later that a 12th grade was added to the free public education system.


I'm guessing dad missed being in his senior class photo as he was probably in the principal's office.  (This is actually a generic photo.  Doesn't matter....he would still have been in the principal's office :)

What brought this to mind was a Facebook post I saw today quoting Democratic / Independent / Socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders advocating a free college education for all.  

I'm sure this brought squeals of glee from one end of the political spectrum and cries of anguish from the other extreme.  That's always how we see things, either liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican.  If one side proposes something, the other opposes it, just to deny their opponent the satisfaction.  

I don't look at things through those glasses.  I think "practical".  Example:

Knowledge is today exploding exponentially.  Kids today have so much more to learn than I did when I was in school.  Using dad's example, a 12th grade was probably added to the public education system because kids needed to absorb more information than they had in the past.  (I won't go in to the "dumbing down" of the system over the intervening years.  Grrr!)

Not long ago I was invited to visit the Lockheed Martin facility in Foat Wuth where we got a tour and heard a presentation by their PR folks.  They told of how their greatest challenge today was finding / hiring enough qualified American engineers.  (I say "American" because most of their work requires a very high security clearance, making many / most foreign-born engineers, technically qualified though they might be, automatically ineligible.)  They said our stagnant (my word) educational system was hindering them.

There was a time when obtaining a high school education was considered adequate for a bright future.  Then it became necessary to get a college education in order to climb the socio-economic ladder.  Today some sort of advanced degree is becoming almost mandatory in order to rise above the lower / middle management level.  Yet here we are 80 years after dad graduated, still with the same 12 grades of free public education.  Helloooo?

"But...but...how would we ever pay for it?"  Consider this (decade-old) census bureau chart:


Imagine how much more income tax revenue we could squeeze out of a Bachelor's / Master's / Doctorate Degree holder than we are getting from a high school graduate, much less a public school dropout?  I'd look there for the additional funding!

I don't think every kid should necessarily get a free ride to Stanford or Princeton or Texas Tech....well OK, maybe Texas Tech....or that post-high school education even has to mean "college".  There is a great need for trade skills such as welders, mechanics, medical techs, etc that require more education, but not an actual college degree.

I think this is an idea that might need to be looked into further.  It seems to me that it would be in our NATIONAL SECURITY INTEREST to have the best educated population and the brightest, most dynamic workforce in the world.  Right now lack of $$$ is no doubt holding back a lot smart kids.  Yes, some can work 2 or 3 jobs and perhaps get there, but along the way I wonder how many others would simply, exhaustedly, give up the dream?

I say let the #$%^& Democrats and Republicans fight over who's bright idea it was.  But lets do take the idea and see if we can find a way to make it work.  Seems to me we'll all be better off if we somehow can.

And you say....?

S


17 comments:

  1. It is worth exploring. I would want only qualified students from receiving the advanced education as determined by...not sure.

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    1. I'm thinking the students themselves would promote or hold back themselves. Apply themselves, good attendance, go to college. Cut classes, don't put forth any effort, "would you like fries with that, Sir?"

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    2. Of course it wouldn't be that simple, but I still think it might be do-able.

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  2. At some point enough people might notice that Sanders has a lot of good ideas. The GOP hopefuls all like to tout themselves as 'outsiders' to the political system. Is there a way one can be 'outside' than declaring themselves an outsider?
    As a point of reference, it should be noted that Sander's positions are similar the the Democratic party of yore......when there was a more marked a difference in the two parties.

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    1. I really don't care where a good idea comes from. I think good ideas can come from all quarters, from all philosophies....it's just a matter of separating the wheat from the chaff (the worthy ideas from the political bullshit).

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  3. It seems to me that making something "free" devalues it. I'm not sure about college being free but it shouldn't cost as much as it does. I think we need to look at diminishing the focus on college sports and turn our attention to better learning.

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    1. Fair enough...maybe not free, but heavily subsidized. Maybe corporations could fund certain fields of study at local colleges that would benefit them. There are a million possible variables that could be calculated to see how much could be funded for worthy students (those who demonstrate a desire to excel). And why couldn't athlete's scholarship funds be part of the subsidy, based on how much revenue they brought in to their school? Again, lots of variables to consider.

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  4. College being free "devalues" it? How? If I am a rock star student with big giant dreams and my family is scraping by on food stamps..... and I get a free education and cure the common cold or solve the mysteries of the universe or become a rocket surgeon.... are you still going to be pissed that my education was free and somehow got all "devalued"?

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    1. I think what Stephen meant was that, using kids and cars as an example, if you GIVE a kid a car he is less likely to take care of it than if he had to put some of his own money, even a small part, into its purchase. If a kid had to invest some of his own $$ into his tuition, maybe even 10% (?) he might appreciate it more.

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  5. A college education in Germany is - if not totally free - much, much more affordable. No, not every dimwit could go to college, and not every high school graduate who scraped by and managed to graduate was able to pick any field he or she pleased. I remember we lived and breathed "numerus clausus" - an intricate system of grade point averages that would either open or close doors to certain fields of study. During certain years - depending on supply and demand of open university spots and the number of students - only A+ students, for example, were able to enroll in medical and pharmaceutical fields. It seemed harsh at times, but ensured that only the brightest minds received the funds for the most costly education.

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    1. Sounds tough, but fair. Survival of the fittest / most dedicated / brightest. We seem willing to publicly fund 12 years of education, so now that there is so much more knowledge to absorb, why not fund 13 or 14 years, or more? The courts ruled years ago that even the childless should pay for universal public education as it was for the overall public good. This just seems like a 21st Century update.

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  6. Wonder how many more Homer Hickam's were stuck in the coal mines because college wasn't affordable.

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  7. I love this idea - but I gotta say that the Ph.D in our house does NOT earn over $7,000 per month!!

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  8. We need more years of education because now a high school degree does not even insure basic literacy. Eliminate (or retard) grade inflation and a high school graduate becomes more employable. And scholarships from corporations exist and are unused. See sentence 1. I am grateful for the scholarships that insured my son got a good education. He just had to go into a field with jobs.

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  10. We'd need to get away from the mentality that college is just another party ride until they graduate and are forced to figure out a way to earn a living. Then so many young people wake up, get serious and go back for a second degree in a direction that will lead to something.

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