My experience tells me that students entering college are woefully ill prepared for college-level academics. Recent statistics suggest that we have an 84% graduation rate in the U.S. When was the last time a high school student in this country failed a grade? I could make the argument that a high school diploma in nothing more than a participation award. Again, I am NOT targeting the dedicated teachers and administrators across this country. I am taking exception to the politicians and the political process that continually devalues our public education.
What happened to vocational education in high schools? As educational budgets were cut, vocational education took a hit. Vocational education now seems to be housed in the post-graduate profit arena. A student must graduate and then apply and pay for vocational education. Every high school student should not go to college, even though that seems to be the K-12 mantra. A 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics report suggests that 69.7% of high school graduates go to college. A 2015 NBC report indicates about 50% of college freshmen graduate. This suggests to me that there are a substantial number of entering college freshmen who are unprepared for college. What, exactly, are our high school graduates prepared to do when they graduate? What skill set have they attained?
Ask yourself if your U.S. Congresspersons or U.S. Senators send their children to your public schools. And if they don’t, why not? The funding and oversight of our public educational system is in the hands of people who don’t use it. Just like the healthcare system. Had our political leaders been required to participate in the healthcare program they passed, it would have been passed very quickly and would have been much more comprehensive. This is no different than our educational system. These systems are being driven my non-participants.
How can we fix the educational problems in this country? Tie education to the crime rate! For as long as I can remember, and I was born in 1954, in virtually every state and national election, a plank in each party’s political platform has been crime. Even though, until recently, the violent crime rate in the U.S. has dropped every year, crime has remained a very focal position during the electoral process. No politician wants to be labeled “soft on crime.” Just look at what happened to Michael Dukakis in the 1988 election. Willie Horton, a convicted felon, was a participant in the Massachusetts furlough program. While on furlough, Horton committed an assault, armed robbery and a rape. The Bush campaign ran ads depicting Dukakis as “soft on crime.” The result was a landslide victory for George H.W. Bush. This was not the only reason Dukakis lost the election, but what people remember is Dukakis let Willie Horton out of prison and look what happened.
Funding, on the state and federal levels, is a legislative process. Any legislator who votes against strengthening our education system should be asked why he/she is soft on crime.
Thomas Jefferson said, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people!” Educated citizens have life options that uneducated citizens do not possess. Let’s fix our education system and reduce our crime rate!