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National Economic Reform’s: Education Reform
The American educational experience from the late 1960’s through today has been a total disaster. Instead of securing our place in educational standards when the educational experience of the post World War II period up till around 1970 we have succumbed to the lowest common denominator. In the mid 1960’s is where the United States was ranked first in Math and Science of all the industrialized nations; a far cry from the realities of education in America today. We have failed generations of our youth. Today, the United States has yet to climb back even into the top 25 of countries around the world. Over the past 40 years through policies, laws, and Supreme Court decisions that were supposed to improve education have done the exact opposite. A lesson in futility sort of speaking has undermined the ability of Americas to compete in the global economic community. Sure, there have been bright spots here and there but the overall educational experience in the United States from elementary through secondary we have continued to loose sight of the aspects that what made American educational the success it was 50 years ago.
According to a recent study by the Department of Education and the National Institute of literacy over 35 million adults in the United States can’t read. You would have thought that by 2015 all adult US citizens would be proficient enough to be able to read basic English. But sadly 15% of the population can’t. When over 22% of our nations high school graduates aren’t able to read past the 5th grade level only emphases that our educational system is still a failure. In fact our current literacy rate has actually gotten worse during this last decade. It is no wonder that our nations economic security and the ability to actively participate in civic life has steadily declined. The link between academic failure, delinquency, violence and crime is directly related to reading failure. The stats are astounding for about 90% of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are really functionally illiterate. Not to mention over 80% of inmates in our prisons cannot read beyond the third grade level.
Today, there are so many factors that detract ones ability to secure quality in attaining a good education. One of the biggest concerns today is the fact that there are so many single parents trying to raise a child or in many cases children. Considering the fact of the cost of living today where it is a very difficult task to say the least just to feed and cloth our children. The economics of today plays a vital role in the quality of ones educational experience. The many needless teenage pregnancies also continues to thwart ones ability to attain the education needed to keep oneself out of poverty. Most of the parents of today are also part of the generations of youth that were deprived of the opportunity to have the benefits of America’s educational experience of their farther’s. In essence what made public education as the meaningful and rewarding experience that the youth of the baby boomers had is no longer available.
We always have to remember that when a child is born the parent or parents has a major responsibility in nurturing their newborn towards creating a lifelong thirst for knowledge. Young minds and especially infant ones are like sponges. They absorb everything. The best way to start to create that life long pursuit begins the sooner the parent gets involved. Their are many of factors that have placed major obstacles in infants and preschool age children’s way to acquire the attitude, ability, and attributes in creating that life long desire for education.
The United States educational systems really have failed the youth of this country. Through supreme court decisions, the relaxing of standards in school systems, and the general Dr. Spock attitude that prevailed from the late 1960’s to today have under minded the educational process. Compounding this now is the employment opportunities, or in many cases the lack of all have contributed to the lack of proper funding for education in all levels. Where stagnant wages have kept the tax base from meeting their obligations to fund the necessary mandates that contribute immensely for keeping available the educational and recreational opportunities available for our youth. All of these contribute to the fact that so many of our youth are denied the opportunity and be able to take part in attaining a well rounded education. The major question now is; how to prepare our youth for the jobs of the 21st. century while regaining our stature in education among the global community?
In order to answer that question we have to start at what worked from the end of World War II to 1970. From that period the United States was a pillar for educational standards. Our High Schools were creating students that excelled to the top of the world in math and science. Today our students are not even in the top 15% What has happened? First and foremost, the basic foundation for laying that groundwork for our youth is embedded in the family unit. The slow methodic disintegration of that family unit over the last 35 years has an enormous impact with the troubles our youth are having today. The majority of youth today are being raised by a single parent. Studies have now proven that when children are raised by a single parent compared to children raised by both mother and father the majority of youth who are raised by both parents performed better in school.
Second: Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s the United States was economically sound with a stable and growing middle class. Their was more deposable income for family’s to use. The tax base was sufficient to provide all the services that promoted well rounded educational systems. The youth of that generation were provided with every available opportunity to participate in all manner of extra- curricular activities whether it was Athletics, Arts, or Music. Not only that; the education they received actually prepared the students with the ability to succeed in what ever employment opportunities they got.
Third: Students form elementary through high school have basically the morality of their parents. When compared with what was deemed appropriate behavior, dress and speech to today says allot about the basic decline of proper etiquette, manners, and our youth’s ability to comprehend values that were instilled in the youth of the 1950’s and the early 1960’s. Not to say the majority of youth of that generation behaved like angles but they were better prepared for life outside of school than today.
Fourth: Whether it is in elementary or secondary public school systems now incorporate the intermixing of special needs students in classrooms. In most cases those students with more sever handicaps receive more attention than other students. Were not saying that special needs students shouldn’t have access to regular school settings where they can enjoy the interaction of other fellow students. What should take place though is that these students would be more suited to be in a separate class room environment. but at the same schools. In other words the more severity of the handicap of a student warrants those to be placed in a learning environment conducive to their own ability to learn. This is where teachers who are specially trained will be able to really practice their trade and have the tools available to do that without disrupting other students who are now in the same classrooms.
Fifth: With so much attention focused on those standardized tests that are now the rule of thumb sort of speaking in evaluating a students level of achievement in education and what many legislatures are now poised to use as a way of equating those results as a base for compensation for teachers is another indication of how misguided government has become. In trying to come up with a workable plan where state, county and city budgets are at all time lows these attempts by legislatures to use standardized tests as the basis on which a student is excelling is grounded in very false assumptions. There again, we have to remind ourselves that each student has their own pace of learning, is a unique individual, and has an innate ability to express a talent whether it is in the arts. or music or sports. The best approach in evaluating any student today is going back to what worked in education some 50 years ago. That is one where the grades they earn all through-out the school year is the real indication of a students proficiency. From homework assignments to regular weekly tests that show a degree of proficiency in subject matter. Sure, standardized tests do play a role in education and do show a certain level of achievement. They also prepare one for the harsh reality of when they enter college. But, to use one or two of these national standardized tests as the only basis of a students proficiency is a big mistake. A more prudent approach would be more like the Swedish in how they consider education and the teachers who are revered and paid accordingly. Using ones tests scores for the level of compensation a teacher receives opens doors of opportunity for more corruption within the school system.
Through-out history there have been countless cowardly acts, atrocities, and horrific suffering of children from all over the world. In practically every nation the youth are the ones that suffer the most due to man’s callous and blatant disregard for their well being. It is no more apparent than what is happening today with the United States Public School Systems. The conditions within public schools has deteriorated to the point that the future of the United States is in very grave jeopardy. In each major city as well as the majority of smaller cities and towns the very structure of our school buildings have become so decayed that the physical safety of children is now threatened. We have let the infrastructure, maintenance, and upkeep of our school buildings fall victim to budget constraints. Another blatant disregard for safety of our youth. When monetary concerns take precedents over health and safety it is our children that suffer the consequences.
With the current deteriorating economic conditions in the United States budgetary concerns continue to mount overshadowing the many concerns toward the children who are attending public schools. This nation cannot tolerate any longer the injustices that our society is imposing on our youth, especially the way our public school system has collapsed. When the United States was at the pinnacle of elementary and secondary education in the 1960’s we have managed to slide from being number one in education of Math and Science to now the United States educational systems are rated among the worst of all industrialized nations. A slide that is so apparent in our society today when the majority of school age children cannot pass routine performance review tests. like reading and basic math Other disturbing factors are the growing number of teenage pregnancies, the persistently growing number of high school youth not finishing high school and the increasing rates of obesity from elementary all the way through high school all play a significant role in the way our public schools are failing today’s youth.
Compounding the continuing educational crisis this country is in is the fact the our governmental policies from local through Federal levels have only exasperated the ongoing catastrophe that has befallen the public school systems. We know the many reasons why our youth are continuing to be denied the educational experiences like that of their grandfathers; but do we have a collective resolve to restore the public school system to the point that will enable every child in America a safe, academically sound and healthy school environment?
To ensure that our public school systems all across America the policies of government starting with the Federal level have to include the many programs that will enable the American public to reduce the highest unemployment rates since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. It has been done before. Lessons of history still prove invaluable to overcome the many obstacles and crisis of today. To attain a 4% or less national unemployment rate with those employed earning real living wages is paramount in securing the funding that is so crucial for every city and towns public school system. It can and must be accomplished. Our future depends on the actions undertaken now.
Curriculums must now conform to the technology of today with the increased emphasis of health and healthy lifestyles that promote illness prevention. There again using lessons of history will reshape the culture of our youth. Once incorporated into each school system the structure, the discipline, and a curriculum relevant to today’s challenges will enable every child from elementary through high school be able to achieve the ability and have the availability to succeed in whatever profession they choose.
Specifically our society must come to understand that all children are unique, learn at different rates, and all have different capabilities. What has transpired in the last 30 years or so is that our public school have lumped practically every child into the same category or classroom. Which is not fair to say the least. What worked for generations prior to the so call education revolution that started in 1970 threw away the structure that prevailed that enabled our public schools to excel. What has happened as a direct result of the new policies from 1970 through today is an exact opposite of the results that were originally intended.
With today’s social culture it is more apparent that our public school systems realize that unless a revamping of old school norms with incorporating the technologies of today is most necessary to ensure that our youth can achieve their dream. Today’s educators must be able to asses every child and direct each child toward a constructive positive outlet for their individuality. A prime example: A child is originally diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder their has to be a reassessment of that child to find out what they excel at. It may be he is a fast runner or a budding artist. It is now up to the educator to direct this child to those areas that have the greatest potential for development. The present way in dealing with these types of disorders is through medical means which does the child more harm than good for their future development. This also lets the educators become more dependent on medicine and not really focusing on giving that pupil a authentic opportunity to reach their full potential.
Not only is there an overwhelming need to focus attention and reform our elementary and secondary educational structure there is a crucial and ever apparent need to focus attention of higher learning. For students who go on to college the availability and quality they also have also succumbed to the financial reality of today.
Education Reform must take president in every community across the United States. To ensure the future of this country our youth must be prepared to contribute their talents in what venue they choose so that an economically sound and socially fulfilling society continues to flourish. This can only be accomplished by implementing National Economic Reform with Education Reform as a primary directive.
It is really post secondary education that is big business today. The enormity of profits that are being made by the way how higher education is financed continues to soar. Our financial institutions are recouping billions of interest on the ever increasing number of student loans that are not only being offered but in so many cases are necessary for the majority of students entering college. It also propels millions of students into a life filled with tension, anxiety and even depression because paying back all those student loans which have reached epidemic proportions is almost impossible now.
Student loans or educational loans as there called today are all forms of financial aid that must be paid back with interest. Federally guaranteed student loans rate of interest varies between 6.9% and 8.5%. These are the Stanford and Perkins Federally sponsored loan programs for students. Parent loans and private student loans are other sources of financial aid that students can also look to. The real problem today is confronted with the ever increasing cost of tuition and other rising costs of a college education like books, room and board, and all the other miscellaneous costs involved. About 95% of college enrolment today are using student loans to pay for their education. That is an increase of over 35% from just tens years ago. The amount of debt involved in obtaining a college education has also risen substantially within the past decade. Every year of those 95% of students their debt has increased by over 7% so that today each student upon graduation are already in debt of over $30,000. When students are enrolled in for profit schools the debt ratio is over 30% higher than those students enrolled in state or non profit institutions.
In no other time in our history has a sector of our society been set back so far financially just so they could obtain an education in order to advance financially in life. It’s like students are taking a step in the right direction by continuing their education but are thrown back so many steps just to get that education. What is making student loans becoming so necessary lies in the overall deterioration of our whole economic structure in our society today. Back in the 1960’s upon high school graduation the majority of students that went on to college were enrolled in state or non profit universities. Sure many went to places like Harvard or Yale but by in large Universities like Illinois or Michigan were more appealing for most. Financing higher education during those times seemed much less complicated. Loan programs were offered but not like they are today with the way financial institutions use predatory lending. Scholarships were more available back then as well. All a student had to do to qualify for what we used to call a “free ride” [that’s a four year all expense paid tuition and all other expenses] was maintain a high school grade point average of over 3.5, and excel in either arts, music, or athletics. A far cry from today. The whole economic demographics of our society has shifted from one where disposable incomes in households all across the United States during the 1950’s through the mid 1970’s were more abundant and contributed to the financial ability of parents whose child went on to college to now practically every household is so hard pressed financially the only option left is to borrow money. Banks now realize this and are capitalizing on golden opportunities to reap billions of profits from all those who are now forced to go in debt just to pay for their education. Another set back is for all those students who are now steered toward private lenders because of government sponsored scholarships have been dried up are now more prone to be in financial deep water upon graduation.
The total amount undergraduates can borrow from the these two categories, direct loans and federal loans has been frozen since 1992. Meanwhile, average college costs have reached astronomical heights. More students today have to turn to private lenders to augment their tuition or to outright pay it. Amounts borrowed from private lenders soared 1,201% between the 1995-96 academic year. In 2005-2006, according to the College Board, the amount borrowed rose from $1.3 billion to $17.3 billion. The amount tripled in the past five years alone. And the trend is only accelerating
Private loans can be a worthwhile investment when they help students pay for educations that will enhance their lifetime earning potential. But because there are few limits, such loans also pile up massive amounts of debt. In so many cases students whose majors are in fields where upon graduation the employment opportunities are no longer available only exasperates this whole crisis. This is the scenario today, the jobs are no longer available to accommodate not only graduates but for millions of other Americans seeking employment. A recent report stating the true very bleak unemployment figures are our young adults under 25 especially for Afro-Americans the unemployment rate hovers at over 40%. In what jobs there are is another very bleak one concerns the vast underemployment of our young adults in America Today. This all translates to more debt in our society only to be capitalized by financial institutions who continue to profit on the misfortunes of our youth and our college students but do nothing to improve the total economic picture. All of this makes graduates very limited in their ability to pay back their loan obligations. Many times we have all heard of students upon graduation have amassed six-figure debts only to find work at jobs paying $10 per hour. There is no possible way these individuals will ever pay off that debt.
When borrowers can’t pay, lenders can get aggressive. Sallie Mae, the largest student lender, has transformed itself into the country’s largest collection agency as well. If private lenders can’t get borrowers to pay, federal student loans can be turned over to the U.S. Department of Education, which has extraordinary powers to seize tax refunds, garnishee wages and pursue other collection paths typically closed to private lenders. What is so frightening is that private and even non profit universities are using less ethical tactics in luring students and parents alike in granting student loans through private lenders. Many times credit scores are altered or overlooked in favor of qualifying for a student loan only to be denied credit anywhere else. So common is this practice today that any tuition reduction would be negated and the more money needed would be included in those student loans. Just another predatory lending practice for financial institutions much like the way these same institutions manipulated prudent lending practices that led to the sub-prime mortgage crisis that continues to undermine our whole economy,
The way student loans are now structured today has far reaching economic implications that only continue to undermine our whole economy. Today the default rate on student loans is almost triple that of the sub-prime mortgage default rate. This is a major factor in why this country is having an almost impossible task of improving our economy while increasing the profits of major financial institutions. It works like this: When banks like Bank of America, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase make federal student loans the United States Government guarantees to repay them 98 cents on the dollar if the borrower defaults. When these banks make private loans they charge interest rats of over 20% compared to federal interest rates of only 6.9%. In either case the only ones winning are the financial institutions. Students and our own government continue to loose out.
When the federal government continues to ignore the plight of so many today in refusing to raise the amount equal to the costs of higher education those students have no choice but to seek the private sector financial institutions to procure the extra needed funds. In doing so they have while the cost continues to escalate only encourages the financial industry to capitalize and vigorously pursue students with promises of guaranteed acceptance in acquiring the loans needed to secure the financial obligations in their college education.
With so many defaulting on their student loans obligations today much like when banks foreclose on a home these same financial institutions are finding it more profitable for students to default and home owners to undergo foreclosure rather than work out payment plans. A double edge sword is now a focal point in that if persons wanting to apply for a loan re modification to reduce their mortgages are now being denied because banks have purposely set the credit criteria higher now just to deny that loan modification. The same scenario is taking place with students who are now forced to default on their student loans.
This is a national crisis. One that has been overshadowed by the mainstream media and our elected officials. The economic impact of this crisis is so huge that if not addressed and rectified now will only reduce our competitiveness in today’s economic markets and the foreseeable future.
It boils down to jobs. Living wage jobs, and the federal government to equate federal student loans to the true cost of higher education today. The rhetoric of today’s politicians and our illustrious legislatures proves that they really still don’t understand the big picture of how those many jobs were lost and the way our financial institutions continue to manipulate rules and procedures just increase their profit margins. Until the implementation of total National Economic Reform is implemented our students will continue to wallow in massive debt probably for the rest of their lives and our whole economy will continue to also, wallow in economic deprivation.
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