Addressing the ever rising costs in college education: what can be done?

 

College
Photo Credit: Link

There are two resounding questions when it comes to college education costs in the United States.

The first question, with the cost of college tuition ballooning over the last 30 years, is going to college still worth it? The resounding and oversimplified answer is yes. If an individual goes to a public university close to home, they can graduate while spending 40 thousand dollars. That’s without any sort of financial aid, and not accounting for any room and board.

The average difference in salary for a four-year graduate compared to an individual that only has a high school diploma? On average 30 thousand a year.

income by education

Yes, this is over simplified, it doesn’t consider what kind of degree you get, or if you don’t have the option of going to school close to home. But it proves a point, if you go to school for the right degree it’s worth it even if you end up over 100 thousand dollars in debt.  

The second question is more divisive, what, if anything, should the federal government do to address the ever-rising cost of college tuition? This is where I propose a more radical solution. College costs have tripled in the last 30 years, even when accounting for inflation. This is absurd.

tuition prices

It is also absurd to expect the federal government to foot the bill for a public institution and expect that colleges won’t take advantage of this by raising their rates further. There is a far simpler solution to keep college tuition under control.

Set federally mandated tuition caps for public universities. Set limits on the amount of fees that they can charge their students. Set limits on how much public universities can charge for textbooks in a year. Colleges can do this and still stay in business.

As an example, military students using tuition assistance have their cost per credit hour capped at 250 dollars. Schools know this and want the students to attend their universities anyways, so many of them lower their tuition rates to these students. Why aren’t school willing to do this for all their students? Because they don’t have to, and they want to make as much money off each student as possible.

Schools now have the same mindset as every corporation in the United States, how can we make the most money. When it comes to higher education that shouldn’t be the case. And it doesn’t have to be. It is time for the federal government to step in and regulate these schools, so everyone has the chance to further their education after high school.

Can Trump just fire DeVos already?

 

354px-Betsy_DeVos_by_Gage_Skidmore
Photo by: Gage Skidmore

It’s beyond time to fire Betsy DeVos. Her latest comments on 60 minutes just highlight what most in tuned individuals have been saying about her since the start, she doesn’t know what the hell she is doing. But don’t take my word for it, lets look at some shining examples of her ineptitude since being nominated.

Shining example number one, she made it harder to prosecute sexual assault on school campuses. In a country where only 31 percent of rapes are reported, and only 0.7 percent result in felony convictions, is it really the time to bring about additional protection for rapists? The guise of protecting those falsely accused falls flat when you consider that of all rape accusations, just under six percent are false.

This just doesn’t make any sense. And what does DeVos have to say when asked if the number of people raped and the number of people falsely accused are the same? “I don’t know”. Well DeVos, all of the United States, myself included does, why don’t you?

Example number two, she thinks grizzly bears are attacking students in Wyoming schools. Well not attacked, but that’s only because all the teachers have guns in Wyoming right? If not, those bears would be chomping at the bit.

Moving on to example number three, she didn’t know that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was a federal law. You know the act that requires public schools in all 50 states to provide education to students with disabilities? Not that it’s important for the Secretary of Education to know these things…

One last example of her incompetence, she has never “intentionally” visited an underperforming school… yet she wants to slash their funding. Yes, it’s important to know what the best schools are doing, but unless you know what underperforming schools are doing you have nothing to compare it to. You have no idea what makes the best school the best. So how can you propose legislation and work on changes without knowing what makes the best schools the best?

The good news for the United States, even Donald Trump seems to be distancing himself from DeVos, hopefully a sign that he’s about to tell his Secretary of Education his two most iconic words “you’re fired”.

 

A Chilling Tale: Addressing the Inequality in Our Schools

MD School

The cold streak that just blasted the Northeast closed dozens of schools in Baltimore City because of outdated heating and cooling systems. There are squabbles over who or what lays at fault; is it mismanagement or a lack of funds? But while the arguments persist on how this happened, the deeper issue is left unaddressed.

If you could pick any school district to send your kids to in the state of Maryland would you pick the Baltimore City school district? Of course not. You would pick any other district. Anywhere OUTSIDE of the city. And that’s a trend that stands for just about any part of the United States.

If you want to determine the quality of a school the first thing you need to do is look at the value of the homes in the community around it. The higher the value of the community the better the school. The Education Department reports that high poverty areas invest, on average, 1,200 less dollars per year on a student then the districts with least amount of poverty (for a school with 2,000 students that’s 2.4 million dollars less per year being invested into the high poverty school).

The second thing that you need to do? Look at the color of the students going there. High minority areas get on average 2,000 dollars less per student per year then low minority areas (that’s a 4 million dollar difference for comparable schools with 2,000 students).

It’s the Americanized version of the caste system. If you live in a middle income home as a child and want to compete against a child from a high income home you’re going to need to work twice as hard to be competitive. Now imagine if you are in a home living well below the poverty line.

A child that is going to school at Northwestern High School in Baltimore City (5% of its students are enrolled in AP courses, the average SAT score of its students is 960, and only 27% of its students are proficient in reading OR math) has to compete against a child going to Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda (60% of its students are enrolled in AP courses, the average SAT score is 1330, 97% of its students are proficient in reading, and 98% are proficient in math).

We tell our children that the most important thing in determining how successful they will be in life is their education and yet for our most vulnerable kids we don’t invest in that education. What does that tell them about what we think of their future? It’s no wonder that dropout rates are so high and that education isn’t taken seriously in inner city schools. Even if they graduate they’ve been given a subpar education that isn’t worth as much as the education being given to children from more affluent families.

We tell our kids that the way out of poverty and crime is education, then don’t give them an opportunity to get an education. Without being given a reasonable way out many students resort to gangs and other criminal activities to try and make the best of their situations. Crime spikes, and we use this to justify giving the school districts even less funding which only exacerbates the problem.

We need to address the cycle of poverty and the continued segregation of our inner city schools by investing in the community and schools before we can reasonably expect the situation to improve. Once we start investing equally among our schools, regardless of income or race, then we can expect to see every suburb and city of country become well rounded and productive areas of society.