Dumbing It Down

Is our country getting dumber? I am hearing that our President is about to begin his overhaul of our education system. I’m a non-formal educator. I’m not in the classroom everyday but I make my living by providing educational programs to people in my community. I enjoy it. I’ll admit that there’s a rush of adrenaline that pumps through my body when I see people’s eyes light up while in the classroom or when people become thoroughly engaged with a learning activity. I believe that education is the single most important factor that determines one’s quality of life.

I’m torn about new policies being proposed. I’m also torn about who gets the blame for our failing education system. Many educators, policy makers, and education specialists are saying we need a total overhaul. Many are proposing that a change is needed in how students are being taught and how to recruit and retain the best, brightest and most sincere to teach our children. Many people (including those same educators, policy makers, and education specialists) want to know how did we get so far behind?

Recently the College Board released a report that found:

The U.S. has fallen to 12th among developed countries in the number of 25- to 34-year-olds with an associate degree or higher.

Only 40.4 percent of young adult Americans have an associate degree or higher, compared with 55.8 percent of the same age group in Canada and 55.5 percent in both Korea and the Russian Federation.

This is pretty pathetic! But I’ve witnessed it within my only family. Cousins, aunts, uncles without college degrees. Yes, it is true that you can do very well for yourself and your family without a college degree. However, with our current economy and the swift changes in industry, a college degree will be standard and most definitely necessary to be gainfully employed in the future.

According to a 2002 US Census Bureau Report:

Over the span of an adults working life high school graduates earn, on average, $1.2 million. People with a bachelor’s degree earn, $2.1 million; people with a master’s degree earn , $2.5 million; and people with a doctoral degree earn an average of $3.4 million during their working life, while those with professional degrees earn the most at $4.4 million.

And if you keep up with what’s going on with our current economy then you know that minorities lag behind in earning potential.

According to the same 2002 US Census Bureau Report:

On average, work-life earnings are lower for Blacks and Hispanics than White non-Hispanics of the same educational attainment level.

Black workers with less than a high school education would earn less than a million dollars during their work-life, increasing to $1.0 million for workers with a high school education, $1.7 for a bachelor’s degree, and $2.5 million for an advanced degree.

It appears from this report that people of color, who have often been marginalized in our country, must obtain an advanced degree to even begin to play on a leveled field and reap the earnings of possessing a higher education. And as it’s been discussed by so many, we know that those children of color who are often living in poverty are the students who get so far behind and shuffled through the system. They struggle to finish high school, continue on to college, and actually receive a college degree. I don’t even want to imagine what my life would be like without having a high school diploma and college degrees!

I think our President, yet again, has his work cut out for him. I’m hoping that everyone will rally behind him and do what’s best to make sure that everyone in our country has access to receive the best education. And that our country will once again reign in the percentage of people obtaining college degrees and making a lifelong commitment to learning. Peace and Love




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