Declining Education – Causes & Consequences
Notwithstanding the fact that education provides the tools for innovation, therefore advancement, progress and yes, pride, lack of education is a major obstacle to the economic engine of any country. On this front, United States has suffered tremendously and continuously under the burden of a declining educated population.
The lack of available skills has prompted a number of options for employers who need to hire skilled individuals for specialized tasks. Those employers have resorted either to outsourcing the tasks to other countries or to put requests for H-1B visas. The number one reason employers give for resorting to outsourcing jobs is the inability to find skilled individuals here in the United States. Such approach translates to fewer jobs for Americans, thus higher unemployment rate and less tax revenues for the country.
The decline in the pursuit of higher education is caused in part by higher education cost and lack of financial support. It wasn’t always that way. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2012), the average cost of education in 1990 for the academic year was $12,303 which included board, tuition and room. In 2010, the average cost of education for an undergraduate academic year had ballooned to $21,100. During those same periods, government assistance had dropped by 50 percent, higher in some cases. Pell Grant was $5,000 per academic year, which could pretty much cover half the cost of tuition. Today, Pell Grant, for those who are lucky, is $2,500 per academic year, and getting a loan to pay for the difference in tuition is a difficult endeavor.
While the elected officials have given plenty of lip service when it comes to funding education, they’ve offered during those same periods unwavering and unlimited financial support for well over a dozen wars, some of which are still ongoing. To put it in perspective, if the amount of cash spent in wars for the past decade were distributed, every single individual in the country would have received $4,800.00.
By contrast, a measly $50.9 billion was set aside for college education in 2010, $44 billion in 2005, $22.4 billion in 1990, according to the National Center for Education Statistics . To put it in perspective, if a 10-year average education funding amount, approximately $391 billion, [(($50.9 + 44 + 22.4) / 3) * 10] were distributed, every single individual in the country would receive $1,251.00, that’s four times less than the cost of just two wars in the past ten years.
Clearly, the elected officials do not see education as a priority. It is a very sad trend for the country, the future of which falls on the shoulder of current and future generations. Unless education priority is recalibrated, the country may have to resort to outside help not just for manufacture outputs but quite possibly for help with running it.
For the shining light on the hill, that has illuminated the path for so many and attracted millions the world over for decades, is slowly, gradually dimming out behind a thick cloud of steadily decreasing educated men and women who are still carrying the pride of belonging to a country that was once the envy of the world.
If children are the future and education is the key to progress, it’s time to throw in the towel or brace ourselves and buckle up to introduce and implement drastic legislation to fund education without reserve, as if our lives depend on it.
Because our future, our lives do indeed depend on it.