EDUCATION: CAN IT EVER BE FREE?

Opinion
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Hilbert Morales
EL OBSERVADOR

The Trump Administration nominated Betsy DeVos, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Secretary of Education. She will advocate privatization of a public education system which has trained many generations of American citizens. More charter schools will be proposed to permit ‘cherry picking’ of students in addition to diversion of funding. Listen to what is proposed. Do track where the school funds are expended. This is best done by ensuring parents are involved and engaged in the local PTA’s and monitor local school board meetings.

Parents must counsel their kids to not go to a college or university without first preparing a personal college attendance business plan. Too many recent graduates end up with a diploma, no job income, and a debt exceeding $35,000 to be paid off (Google “College Student Loan debt 2017”).

College payrolls, including executive, management, and academic are not subject to market forces which determine value and worth. From birth to age 18, parents are responsible guardians and instructors of their kids. None of this is free. A complex of property taxes, grants, tuition and fees is the monetary exchange. Invariably, private education services cost more because of profit margins.

Our local high school districts are known to encourage all students to prepare to attend a college or university to obtain a technical or professional degree. These days industrial leaders keep insisting that local high schools do not prepare enough students to succeed when attending a local college or university. Democracy requires informed citizens, who elect those officials who make public policy for the creation of the ‘greater good’ benefiting all. Much of this depends upon individuals who learn a trade or profession resulting in being gainfully employed. Having a job that pays more than a minimum wage enables the individual to enjoy living a middle class life style. These essential consumers sustain the American consumer economic engine which attracts creative and ambitious individuals from throughout the world.

Recent data reveals that graduates have student loan obligations in excess of $35,000. It is already a fact that now many students are responsible for an aggregate student loan amount ($1.3 trillion) which exceeds the current credit card debt. This is incredible because the individual student has no assurance of being employed at a level that permits payback during a reasonable time period. This is happening at a time when the economy does not provide many employment opportunities. Is it possible that educators have not considered, at all, who gets to pay for having everyone prepare to go to college? The entire education system is financially strapped these days. Students attend high schools which do not prepare them for success when attending a university. Too many times the parents are not included in supportive preparation for a vocation or a professional career.

Somehow, it must all begin with the parents who want opportunities for their kids that they could not have’ because of their circumstances.

It is time to become more realistic about the ability of any community to train its children to attend college. Reality dictates that some simply do not have the ‘smarts’ to benefit from current educational programs. Beginning with middle school, each student must be assessed, evaluated, and guided towards a vocation in which some measure of success is possible. Put another way, parents and educators need to realistically select those students who would most benefit from the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) which needs to be learned and understood by the student. Selection of those having potential to be trained in STEM needs to happen so available resources end up being effectively and efficiently used. Those industries which require individuals well versed in STEM need to support local high school programs which select and prepare those individuals having the capability and potential to benefit. After all, if one is to be a scientist, a technologist, an engineer, or a math professional, then there must be ways of determining the individual’s facility with the essential subject matter required.

There are too many advocates for charter schools, private, and parochial schools. Their pitch is to the students who are too uninformed to be realistic about their future. And quite often, while training a student to conform, the dreams, the innate creativity and imagination already in that young mind are neglected and lost. It is the responsibility of the parents to constantly be engaged in monitoring the training being provided to their child. And though there are Parent Teacher Associations, most seem to be guided by an ambitious person who already has an agenda in mind. Parents must be assertive while ensuring the best education for their child is being provided and understood. Despite any and all educational systems being proposed, despite the application of market theory, the basics end up being reading, writing, and arithmetic along with an ability to communicate and to make friends. Up until the 7th grade, the emphasis of any and all education needs to be the basics along with knowing how to compete fairly and honestly.

Nonetheless, society must devise ways of identifying youth from ethnic communities who possess high potential, creativity, and understanding. No one with these special capabilities is to be overlooked, because, our government agencies and industries need their capabilities. Education is already too expensive for those who have modest incomes and social status.

Today it is possible to aggregate the costs of educational systems. However, the social costs, the investments made by parents is not fully accounted for. One thing is certain, educating an individual child is not free.

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