Column: Education matters
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 20:03
It was a hell of a Mardi Gras. I celebrated Fat Tuesday by watching Obama show that he might just be the progressive politician that many of us voted for after all.
It’s unfortunate that many in the city of New Orleans, including many in the Loyola community, have not yet seen Obama deliver his State of the Union address. For me, what made it worthwhile were his proposals on education, which include some promising goals for both higher and primary education.
The most ambitious of these proposals concerns the access to pre- school for every child in America. Noting the effects of pre-school education on a students’ quality of life, Obama proposed a state-by- state initiative to provide children with this opportunity.
The Obama proposal intends to pair such programs with the development of technical education at the high school level. Science and technology based programs, like those implemented in Germany, will be designed to graduate students from high school with the tools to work in the technical fields of a fast- evolving economy.
Changes to the Higher Education Act will make sure that “affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid.” These changes can act as a buffer against tuition hikes.
More importantly, these reforms will act as a defense against institutions that take advantage of the lower-class and, often, military personnel. As the system stands right now, for-profit colleges are capable of receiving the same federal aid as nonprofit colleges and public higher education institutions.
The result is that a student can take out $80,000 in loans to earn a degree from an institute that may not even be accredited. The institutions themselves, like Trump University (yes, Donald Trump runs a chain of “universities”), spend a disproportionate amount on advertising and executive salaries and do nothing to ensure the quality of education, or even that their students graduate.
These schools target first- generation college students and bombard them with advertisements for worthless degrees. The White House College Score Card and these changes to the Higher Education Act can help alleviate some of these problems.
As it stands, the United States educational system suffers a number of systemic flaws that prevent students from achieving their potential, or even of getting through the system at all. Hopefully Congress will take up these initiatives and give them a vote.
Stewart Sinclair can be reached at email@example.com