Guiding and Measuring our Most Valuable Resource

“A capacity for reading, gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.  It is the key to the already solved problems.  And it gives a relish, and facility, for successfully pursuing the unsolved ones.” – Abraham Lincoln

Freedom has always been tied to economic independence and economic independence has always been linked to having the educational tools to understand and take advantage of those economic opportunities. These are undeniable facts.  The person who has a high school diploma will earn, on average, $250,000 more than the person with “some” high school experience – $6,000 more per year.  The one with an Associate Degree will earn $280,000 more than the high school graduate, or $7,000 per year.  And the individual with the Baccalaureate Degree will earn $680,000 more than the person with the Associate Degree, roughly $17,000 more per year.  The college graduate will make $1,000,000 more than the high school graduate and earn 75 percent more, that’s compelling!

So, What’s the Problem? Everyone recognizes the importance of education and in 1986 Florida created a lottery to address the educational funding crisis.  Lotto revenues doubled from 2000 to 2010 to almost $4 billion, yet Florida still receives mediocre results in education when measured against other states.  Part of this is because as Lotto monies increased, tax-based educational appropriations decreased.  But there is a more unsettling problem…

Steve Scully, founder of TIVITz, the online math game and college funding program, states that the real problem with a college education is not just the cost; it is the resulting debt.  Tuition continues to rise at astronomical rates for one primary reason: the government is willing to fund escalating tuition expenses in the form of “FAFSA college loans.”  In fact, the higher the cost of college, the more people qualify.

The alarming result is that today, the college loan debt is higher than the credit card debt – $800 billion plus!  But unlike credit card debt, there is no relief or restructuring – basically, the government owns our college graduates. The opportunity to achieve a college degree continues to become more costly in real dollars in addition to the stifling debt that graduates owe to the government when they get out of school.  How will they start businesses or buy homes?

Education is economics.  Our economy is failing and simultaneously so is our educational system.  True recovery can only be engineered by an educated populace, as the uneducated can be easily fooled.  We need to ask several questions:

  • What is going to be the impact of the government’s newfound business model for owning our college graduates, and what will it cost us dearly in the future if not reversed?
  • What is the impact on the economy when 10 percent of our children drop out of high school?  As we continue to cut extracurricular activities, will these percentages rise?
  • Why are vocational classes being dropped as we try to emphasize science and math?  Vocational occupations are not only necessary and excellent careers, but they tend to also close the economic gap between high school and college graduates’ earning potential.

What Do We Need?

  1. Job Security versus Measurable Outcomes. Everyone wants job security, but when job security trumps how effective you are in doing the job, that industry – whether it is education or anything – is going to fail. Not everyone with a teaching degree has the passion or skills to be a good teacher.  Rewarding ineffectiveness will only bread mediocrity
  2. Teach Financial Literacy. If students learned “pay yourself first – 10 percent of everything you earn,” retirement wouldn’t be an issue.  All students should take the Junior Achievement financial literacy course.
  3. Goal Setting. Nothing is accomplished if you don’t know where you are going.  Our K-12 educational system is the perfect example of a goal-orientated system, yet the institution never teaches the underlying message of WHY the goal to complete a grade takes one year.
  4. Character. Invest into the character of our youth and our youth will lead us to prosperity
  5. Team Skills. All of life is about being on a team; the lone wolf will always make a tragic mistake.  None of us are given the complete package; we all need teammates.
  6. History. History is the only tool we have to accurately predict the future.  Whoever interprets history controls the future.

“An educational system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living, but doesn’t teach them how to make a life.”  – Anonymous