To The Daily Sun,
Let's be honest. Taxpayers have been screwed by education at every level for decades. The costs associated with education never stop rising while the quality of the product is mediocre at best, often failed.
It is common to read of schools where 50 percent or more of the children in eighth grade can't read or do math to grade level, while 95 percent of teachers in those same schools give their peers a good or excellent job performance rating. That is where the term "blowing smoke up someone knickers originated." Taxpayers get a "smoke job" after outlaying hundreds of billions for education annually. Kids perform poorly, but teachers are wonderful and deserve a raise.
Higher education experiences the identical problems. Tuition costs have doubled over the past 20 years, pricing college out of the reach of many middle class families without taking on extraordinary amounts of very risky debt. Student loans now total a whopping, record $1.3 trillion while defaults on those loans are also at record percentages. Borrowing the tens of thousands, in some cases hundreds of thousands, needed to finance a college education is as much of a "crap shoot" as the pull of any handle on any slot machine in Vegas. There is zero guarantee the huge cash outlay will result in a higher paying job.
It is a well known fact the education level of the people "unemployed" every year keeps rising. The assured connection between a degree and a high paying job has never been less in America. College degrees produce higher incomes, but the assurance that degree will lead to a high-paying job before it leads to bankruptcy is less than ever.
All too often the public wants to chase the "smoke" of a problem rather than the underlying fire. Attacking a fire can cause intense heat and intense blowback by people who very much benefit from the status quo remaining unchanged. There is no problem so emblematic of "smoke chasing" while ignoring the roaring fire below than education, in part because we all know people who work in education either as relatives, neighbors or friends. Education casts a huge social footprint in every community, making change difficult. Attacking education can be seen as attacking those people, when all that is sought is a better product for a better price through cooperation.
When unions are involved, cooperation for change is near impossible. It costs on average $250,000 to remove the average failed teacher from any classroom in America. That is why so few lousy teachers are fired. It illustrates well the lack of cooperation from teachers' unions to fix the quality and cost problem that haunts our kids.
My daughter works at one of the elite colleges in New England as a senior admissions director. This is her statement to me: "Dad, the people here do not give a rat's you know what about costs, or controlling costs or cutting costs. All they know is they have two thousand openings. As long as those openings keep getting filled after they raise tuition by 4 percent or 5 percent every year, that is all they care about. That funds very generous, continual increases in wages and benefits to everyone from the Ph.D. teacher to the post hole digger in maintenance. If you want costs dramatically cut, boycott this college. Refuse to send your kids here because the costs are over the top. That is the only way they will listen is when their jobs and cushy lifestyles are threatened."
We see the same attitude in public education. Teaching has become one of the most premier jobs in America. What job in private enterprise has four months-plus of vacation, including the entire summer off, solid wages, solid pensions, solid benefits that increase no matter the economy and with an employer who can not go out of business or even relocate.
Teaching has become one of the best jobs in the world. Even better, we tend not to hold them very responsible for the quality of their work and when cost go up we run to the state or the government( the taxpayer) to throw money at them rather than holding them responsible for cost and quality like we do with every other person doing every other job in America.
This has to stop. It is insanity.
- Category: Letters
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