Education in the US is on the Decline, and it’s All by Design
The same mechanisms that are facilitating a decline in economic growth, mainly job retention and creation, are those that are spurring the end of quality formative education in the US; there is no profit in a free, quality education, thus there is neglect.
Wealth in the US has become polarized, as would be expected in a capitalist state. That polarization between the “haves and have nots”, however, has spread into numerous social services, and one of the hardest hit social programs in the country is education. US students consistently rank among the lowest in the world in curriculum proficiency, and the highest in perceived superiority.
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The profit principle. It drives the entire capitalist world. It is the cause for unscrupulous tactics on Wall Street, and the outsourcing of jobs to the developing world at the cost of unemployment in the US. Wherever there is an opportunity or market to make a profit, you can rest assured that those systems will be efficient, effective, and long-lasting. Simply take a look at the prison industrial complex. Non-violent petty drug offenders are given stiff sentencing, and inmates are given top-notch healthcare (something an average citizen can’t even get) to maintain a steady flow of “product” in the industry. You can bet that in America, if it’s private and for-profit, it most likely leads the world in efficiency and growth.
The public education system in the United States has fallen victim to the negative consequences of the profit principle, in that any sector which doesn’t turn a profit, finds itself neglected and ignored. Partisan political ideology aside, a nation’s future rests squarely in the hands of its young people. Investing in formative education assures a state that its population will have the viable intellectual capacities to compete at both a domestic and global level. Why does the US consistently lead the world in university education, while its formative and elementary counter-parts are consistently ranked lowest? Because there is a profit mechanism in higher education, even in the public sector, and that profit mechanism is debt.
That’s not to say that formative education is completely disparaged. Private schools continue to flourish, and charter schools have to draw lotteries to see which kids get in, and which get left behind. American policies have effectively created a systematic hierarchy in the public education sector, playing to the exact same dynamics of the polarization in wealth. More and more, access to education is becoming polarized, in that where there was a middle ground before, allowing marginalized, disenfranchised, and socio-economically disadvantaged youth a way out, there now exists a slaughter.
Incompetent teachers, ineffective teaching philosophies, and young children slipped through the cracks at the most vulnerable and intellectually impressionable age, all thanks to an under-funded and almost neglected public school system. The headlines are everywhere. More and more municipalities, and city and state governments continue to cut education budgets in efforts to “tighten the belt”. What they are failing to realize is that cutting education budgets is effectively crippling the countries fiscal future. An uneducated society does not a powerful country make.
The profit principle plays a starring role as the facilitator of access to education across the US. Student loan debt is about to hit one trillion dollars, and is outpacing the growth of the country’s credit card debt. Many in the financial sector believe it is the next bubble to burst, as a disproportionate amount of new college grads aren’t able to find work that can sustain suitable living conditions, and debt obligations in the tens of thousands to private, third party, for profit lenders, who have effectively turned higher education in the US into another industry where debt rules.
This systematic design to indebt those who seek an education, and marginalize those who can’t afford one for their children during their formative years is simply another way for American society to polarize wealth and political viability in the long-term. The public education system in the US is in complete disarray, and looking at the numbers, where the rest of the world continually beats out American school-children, even in subjects like US History, is downright nauseating.
It isn’t all doom and gloom, however. There is hope, in new technologies like the Khan Academy, which have been touted by billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates as “the future of education”, which aim to create a much more cost effective, and efficient learning environment in schools worldwide. These hopeful initiatives, however, still require ample capital investment, and a real effort to re-vamp the American public school system, once the envy, and now the laughing stock of the world.
In ignoring our formative education system, we aren’t merely keeping kids ignorant, but we are hurting ourselves, and the future of our country. If the United States wants to maintain its seat at the head of the global table for generations to come, we have to realize that the only way to compete is to make sure we retain the “best and the brightest” across all fields.
Remember, there are more honors students in China, than there are students in America.