School Day Blues

During the presidential debates Mitt and Barack argued about many things, but one thing they were in agreement about was school.  They both seemed to think that helping people go back to school will help create jobs.

What the hell is that all about.  Schools create employees, and guess what employees do?  They demand jobs, they do not create them.

Entrepreneurs create jobs.

Granted the folks promoting education probably have good intentions but their efforts are backfiring.  By giving money and low-interest loans to students they have created a university system that has lost touch with economic reality.

Check out this recent graph in the Economist.

Does that look sustainable to you?

Why is tuition going up so much faster than inflation?  It is because money is being thrown at the problem.  The cost of education cannot go up so much faster than inflation for much longer.  Something will change soon and if you are in the education field you might be wise to start thinking about it.

But has throwing this much money at the education system helped?  Are our kids better educated?

A recent federal survey showed that between 1992 and 2003 the literacy of college-educated citizens actually declined so maybe not.

Look at those  same dates on the graph above!  Tuition was going through the roof and literacy was going down.  Bummer.

Additionally  almost 30% of students take courses that involve less than 40 pages of reading over the entire semester.  That seems pretty slack to me.

Throwing money at the problem is rarely a good solution because the funds are rarely allocated well.

So if all this money is not helping educate the students, where is it going?

This brings us to a disturbing fact:  In the mid 70s there were  about 45 administrators for every 100 faculty members.  As much as this number seems way too high to me, it now stands at close to 100.  That means there are as many administrators as there are teachers.

The funny thing is this lack of investment in teachers and teaching, and the lower literacy rates are not illustrated with the students getting lower grades.  Quite the opposite actually.  Currently over  40% of all grades are As.  What the hell.  This is an increase of 28% since 1960.

There are some strange parallels with the government here.  More money is being spent and less is being achieved. The ratio of those producing to those consuming is about equal, and the numbers are being manipulated to give the illusion that all is well.

What the country should be doing is encouraging entrepreneurs. That is how we will get more jobs.  I am an extremely small entrepreneur and I have almost 30 employees.  If just a fraction of our population were encouraged to open successful small businesses there would be an exponential effect on the jobs.  But don’t hold your breath.

It sounds great but the fact is I’m not going to reform the education system are you?   What I am going to do, and what I recommend anyone who has kids to do is to take matters into your own hands.

Schools may not teach financial literacy.  But you can.   Schools may not teach entrepreneurship and risk management but you can.

You should take an active role in filling in the gaps of the education system.

Additionally you can look to alternatives to the standard universities.  There are great opportunities to learn free online, or to learn at “traditional” schools in other countries.  Other countries where the costs are much less.

Here are some resources:

Coursera
Western Governors University
Khan Acadamey
K12
EdX

If you have kids what are you doing to prepare them for the future?

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