In the United States, the average cost of a four-year degree can range anywhere from $15,000 to as high as $60,000. This is an astronomical sum and mostly funded through federal and state government student loans. The data shows that more Americans are completing their college and university degrees, but that does equate to intelligence and the demonstration of essential skills?
Not necessarily so, at least according to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which found the U.S. lags behind other member countries in adult proficiency in math, reading and problem solving skills. In fact, Americans were ranked as one of the lowest among developed nations, even with the growing number of reported degrees.
The OECD published a chart that depicted percentages of populations that scored in the top two quintiles in math. The results: Japan (18.8 percent), Germany (14.2 percent), the United Kingdom (11.2 percent), U.S. (8.5 percent) and France (8.3 percent). In literacy, the U.S. fell behind Finland and Japan. In problem solving abilities, the U.S. fell below the global average and was way behind the Netherlands and Finland.
These figures are important to conclude that the U.S. doesn’t need to spend more money on education – the Land of the Free is No. 1 in the world in education spending – but rather improve the quality of education. The jobs of tomorrow will require enhanced training and skills, but if the current trend continues then the U.S. will be at the bottom of the pack – most likely continuing to eat potato chips, drink soda pop, watch television, play video games and believe in government propaganda.
Education experts recommend early childhood education, additional adult education programs, less testing but more high-stakes testing at important times and provide students more options for trades. Although these seem like commendable suggestions, here are some other ideas from a libertarian point of view:
– Get the federal government out of education
– Allow states and cities to create their own curriculum
– Reform or eliminate the teachers’ unions
– Remove activism from the classrooms; focus on essential skills
– Winners and losers; not everyone receives a trophy for doing nothing