Want to know the real problem with America’s education system? Here it is:
Millions of American graduates are discovering that their education isn’t paying off with the middle-class (or, for top students, better) lifestyle that they envisioned when they were working so hard in class. One report says that there are seven job seekers for every position that pays above a living wage of $15 per hour. And if you think that 15 bucks an hour is a lot compared to when you graduated college, may I introduce you to the inflation calculator? Use it to see what your first post-college job paid in today’s dollars.
As a result, millions of college graduates are stuck with jobs that don’t actually require a college education. Nearly half of the low-wage workers in America have a college degree.
College has become the new high school. Instead of providing a ticket into the middle and upper classes, an expensive college degree too often merely helps you hang on to the menial jobs a previous generation filled with high school graduates and drop-outs.
Think this is a problem with the quality of today’s college graduates? Let’s put it this way: companies moving jobs to the Third World aren’t doing it because they can find more college graduates abroad. We’re producing a glut of college graduates not because our economy demands them, but because college provides a convenient place to store excess labor. Our economy doesn’t have jobs for young workers, so we send them off to college instead.
That would be no-harm, no-foul for today’s students if college were part of those students’ free public education. But it isn’t. And with college costs growing much faster than inflation, not to mention people’s ability to pay, we’re burdening our young people with billions of dollars in debt that they’ll need to pay off while working in low-wage jobs that couldn’t support themselves and a family anyway. Wall Street pockets the profits from today’s increasingly productive workers while making even more money off the young people steered to college in pursuit of jobs that don’t actually exist.
And people really wonder why our economy remains stagnant? Talk about “takers” sucking money from the “makers” in our economy!
The problem with our education system isn’t to be found in our schools, after all. It’s a problem with an economy that’s not producing jobs. It’s a problem with an economy that creates poverty as a byproduct of corporate profits. Education suffers when students’ parents don’t have enough income to support their children’s education with adequate food, shelter, security, and attention.
It’s not like our economy lacks the cash to pay its workers. Heck, Walmart could raise its workers pay to nearly $15 an hour without raising prices one cent, simply by using the money it’s now spending on propping up its stock price. Corporate profits are near all-time highs, while effective tax rates on corporations and the wealthiest Americans are at the lowest rate in a generation.
But education suffers most when students see through the scam. Talk with college and high school students. They know that the job market stinks. Many of them are beginning to question why they should work so hard within a system that won’t reward that effort in the end. There’s no hope for education if students aren’t even motivated to make an effort.
es, we have an education problem in America today. But the problem isn’t with our schools, or with our teachers. Our problem is an economy that won’t support young people or their educations anymore. Maybe instead of wasting time and money on Wall Street’s attempts at “education reform” we should be demanding that our elected leaders reform Wall Street and our economy, instead.