April 8, 2011

Education in America

There is little doubt that America has been the world's leading innovator in the last two centuries. Much of that innovation was attributable to an education system comprised of schools that provided the opportunity for every American to acquire a skill set that they could rely on to build a financially successful life.

However, that began to change in the last half of the 20th century as much of America's education system devolved into mediocrity, brought about by decision-makers changing emphasis from student education to serving the wants of many employed-for-life educators.

The Alliance for Education found that 23% of High School graduates can't complete an introductory-level college writing course and 40% lack the literacy skills employers are looking for. If those kinds of results were from any other profession, it would be scored an abject failure. Instead, we keep throwing more money at educators. Taxpayers spent an average of $10,300 per student per year for these results. For an average class size of 26.8, that is $276,040 for each class every year!

Vocational schools that once played such a significant role in educating many of our young people are largely ignored or looked down upon by the education elites.

Many colleges and universities have become party places maintained by businesses focused on enriching themselves. For example, a Virginia university's top executive gets paid $706,800 a year, more than 4 times what we pay our Governor. Another pays their basketball coach $525,000 annually. And this is for a school population that spends an average of 15 hours a week in a classroom or laboratory.

The current annual cost-of-attendance at a typical university is $19,200 for on-campus, in-state students, and $43,554 for out-of-state students.

If education were the primary objective, students would be completing their studies in two years instead of four at a considerable loss of revenue to the education business.

Compare that to the Navy's Nuclear Power School where students spend 40 hours a week in a classroom taking engineering level classes, with an additional 10 to 40 self-study hours a week, for six months.

And this is followed by 6 months of laboratory work. When they are finished, they have a skill set that they can build their lives on.

It is unfortunate that same cannot be said for so many of our high school and college graduates!

Rex A. Hoover