If an optimist is someone who believes we live in the best of all possible worlds, and a pessimist is someone who fears that this is true– then clearly, if the world is the same regardless, the difference is purely in the point of view of the optimist or the pessimist. Ultimately, it’s all in one’s perspective — a perspective each of us can choose. The key to our dilemma is choosing our perspective wisely.
Finding our way in this new world with its rapidly changing paradigm shifts is our challenge. Since our perceptions will dictate the reality we live in, then most certainly the knowledge we have of the “truth” behind these changes is the essential tool in helping us make the right decisions about the future we desire.
Education and communications are key to developing our understanding in a way that reflects the “reality” around us. Education unfortunately, even in developed countries, is not going the right direction. Now, when we need understanding and knowledge more than ever, we are seeing a decline in the quality of the education our children, and even adults, are receiving. This is occurring, in spite of the vast amount of resources being expended. To give you an example of how distorted things have become say in the US, take a look at this; the average per capita expenditure for a child going to school in the poorest areas of LA, Lennox, is about $5,000/yr. A student going to a private school in LA has about $32,000 a year spent for that education. But the really startling number is the cost to incarcerate a youth in LA, $125,000/yr. Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with picture? What is clear is that if this knowledge were “common” I believe we, as the community, would most definitely begin to re-prioritize our agenda and our public monies.
Our higher educational system has become nothing more than another “money-making” corporate endeavor, instead of a system to produce the business, professional, and political leaders we so desperately need now. Here are some facts to consider. Young households are being hit particularly hard by student loan debt. In America today, 40 percent of all households that are led by someone under the age of 35 are paying off student loan debt. Back in 1989, that figure was below 20 percent. According to the Federal Reserve, the total amount of student loan debt has increased by a whopping 275 percent since 2003. Since 1986, the cost of college tuition has risen by 498 percent.
Yet with staggering numbers, the quality of that education is heading exactly in the opposite direction. At most U.S. colleges and universities, the quality of the education that you will receive is very poor. Just check out some numbers about the quality of college education in the United States from an article that appeared in USA Today….
-”After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”
-”Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago”
-”35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”
-”50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages”
-”32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”
What is more tragic is these impacts are not just an issue of our young people. Consider this recent finding concerning the impacts of the unmitigated disaster on the elderly. According to government data, compiled by the Treasury Department at the request of SmartMoney.com, the federal government is withholding money from a rapidly growing number of Social Security recipients who have fallen behind on federal student loans. From January through August 6, the government reduced the size of roughly 115,000 retirees’ Social Security checks on those grounds. That’s nearly double the pace of the department’s enforcement in 2011; it’s up from around 60,000 cases in all of 2007 and just 6 cases in 2000.
If we have any hope for a future worth living, we must begin to make this knowledge a part of our daily dialogue. Our priorities need to be re-aligned with what is important for our future, and education is the essential key to determining the nature of that future. Begin the discussions in your schools, homes, and PTA meetings. The more we know, the more we can do to make our children’s future the legacy we wish it to be for them.