We all know how powerful education is. It not only empowers the mind and enhances one’s knowledge and skills but can change the future too. An education can help people realize their dreams and aspirations in life. A myriad of opportunities opens up to an educated person – opportunities that will never come knocking to someone who did not get an education. Books are key to this, of course.
Yet for as long as we can remember, public education is only free to primary and secondary school students and is plagued with issues and controversies too. Affluent parents who only want the best for their kids would rather enroll their children in private schools than compromise their child’s learning at the many public schools sprawled all over the country.
College is an even bigger problem as most students no longer pursue it because they simply cannot afford the high tuition fees. As a result, more and more Americans go through adulthood without a degree, making it harder for them to compete globally. Many of them also lack the necessary knowledge and skills to qualify them for work in various industries both in and out of the country.
Our nation’s rapidly evolving, technologically oriented economy is driving a surge in demand for skilled employees. It is estimated that two-thirds of all jobs created in the coming decade will require some form of postsecondary education. In response, the United States has established a goal of achieving a 60 percent postsecondary degree or certificate attainment among the nation’s labor force by 2025, equating to an additional 62 million Americans. But with the current trajectory, the U.S. will produce only 39 million such graduates, 23 million short of the goal.
At the same time, funding constraints and other factors have resulted in a 20 percent decrease in total state appropriations to public baccalaureate-granting institutions. Our experts report that innovative approaches to funding postsecondary education are required to meet America’s demand for skilled workers.
Fortunately, lawmakers are finally doing something about the problem so that the future of the country has a better chance in work and in life.
Florida lawmakers are pushing an education agenda that includes big changes to higher education and k-12 schools. Recess could become mandatory, tuition less expensive and Bright Futures expanded under proposals in the House and Senate.
The sound of kids playing on jungle gyms and monkey bars isn’t as common as it used to be in public schools. Over the years, as the state has increased requirements on schools, they’ve cut back on recess. It’s now optional in many districts, and that’s not fair to students says Angie Gallo, legislative chair of the Florida Parent-Teacher Organization.
School systems put undue stress on students that they end up hating school rather than being excited to learn something new every day. We should not dismiss the fact that teachers play a major role in a student’s enthusiasm to go to school daily.
Meanwhile, a plan to boost universities is already waiting for a full Senate vote. The plan calls for the state to use a four-year graduation rate instead of the traditional six-year-figure to help determine who gets what money. Bright Futures scholarships would expand to cover 100 percent of tuition. There are also dollars for recruiting new faculty into the system. And schools would have to offer flat, block tuition plans. Senate President Joe Negron says students take fewer courses because they can’t afford more.
Both parents and students can only hope that the new Secretary of Education also put their best interests in mind and strive to improve the quality of public education aside from increasing access to college and university scholarships instead of making further budget cuts. Many are baffled when she said that the sector is not facing any problem today when asked in an interview.
Further, she seems to be in support of the Department of Education being significantly stripped of some—if not all—of its powers. “There’s clearly an opportunity to slim down the department in some ways. I don’t know if that will ultimately significantly reduce the overall expenditure, but it may, it may help incentivize states in other ways,” she said, according to Axios.
When asked if there are current issues involving education that the federal government has a place intervening in, she said: “I can’t think of any now,” though she acknowledged the Department played an important role in desegregating schools and promoting gender equality in the past.
A good education is the foundation of a thriving economy. Educated workers need less supervision and can contribute to the growth of any company or organization. They not only work to survive but work to make a name for themselves. If the government only sees it that way, then it will put more emphasis on education reforms that the education sector desperately needs right now.