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Preschool, College, and Results

In past years the political hue and cry focused on how important it was for everyone to earn a college degree, and how that would somehow help lift everyone to a higher economic plateau.  This prizing of a college education, along with a concurrent expansion of the federal government’s commitment to finance students’ educations, has had somewhat predictable results.  With demand driven up and subsidized financing available, colleges have raised the price of tuition astronomically.  The cost of a four-year degree, in real/inflation-adjusted dollars, has increased some 300% on average since I graduated in 1982, and by approximately 1,000%, or ten fold, since 1965.  Remember, this is measured after adjusting for inflation!  Worse still, for too many the college degrees have done little to assist them in their hunt for decent jobs.  Millions of graduates are now either unemployed or desperately under-employed, and most of them are saddled with student loan obligations that will remain a millstone around their necks for most of their entire lives. 

This year the political class, led by N.Y. Mayor de Blasio and President Obama, have made universal Pre-K the focus of their education agendas, believing that it is in the Pre-K year that the fate of a child’s education is largely determined.  Studies reviewed in a recent N.Y. Times article seem to distinguish between the effects of certain Pre-K curriculum and others, and the results differ markedly.  According to this piece, Pre-K programs that act as day care or even ones that try to ambitiously teach 3 and 4 year olds math and reading have demonstrated little positive effect, but ones that teach precursor skills by reading to children or teaching them rhyming patterns or playing with puzzles do seem to have a positive impact.

So, why do I write about this?  Well, we have all borne witness to the disastrous results of our public education system which produces far too many dropouts or graduates who are borderline illiterate.  Taxpayers have had an incredible amount of their investment dollars squandered by bureaucrats who continue to invest fresh dollars into an education system that has unquestionably failed.  And no one has been held accountable for results.  We read frequent stories about the power of the teacher’s union, and amazing abuses and failures, and yet there is no call for wholesale changes.  In the private sector this would be unheard of and funding would have long been cut off for this desperately failed system. 

The misallocation of funds by government has been an incredible tragedy and our national debt speaks well to that fact, as do the results earned from these mistaken investments that were made without any system of accountability or checks and balances.  When will we fools (U.S citizen taxpayers) wake up from our collective stupor and insist that our political leaders abandon their platitudes and present us with specific goals and then hold them accountable for meeting them?

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