The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Saturday, June 30, 2012

"As Much As They Can Afford"

I don't want to play "gotcha" here, but I think this statement by Mitt Romney is rather telling:
I think this is a land of opportunity for every single person, every single citizen of this great nation. And I want to make sure that we keep America a place of opportunity, where everyone has a fair shot. They get as much education as they can afford and with their time they’re able to get and if they have a willingness to work hard and the right values, they ought to be able to provide for their family and have a shot of realizing their dreams.
Here, watch for yourself:

Now, the annual cost for a college education has skyrocketed since the dimly remembered past when I attended; using the sums in "constant 2008-9 dollars", four year institutions (both private and public) have increased from an average of $ 8,672 per year in 1981-1982 (three years before I started) to $20,986 in 2009-2010. For private institutions alone, the cost increase is even more dramatic, from $13,861 in 1981-1982 to $32,475 in '09-'10. (Public institutions have jacked up the costs enormously, as well, although they started from a much lower initial price--from $6,320 to $14,870; not as bad, clearly, but a steeply ascending trend as well.)

Meanwhile, a 2011 Study from the Georgetown Center on Education and Workforcehas concluded that "over the past thirty years, the demand for college educated workers has outpaced supply, resulting in economic output below potential and growing economic inequality." Moreover, a related 2012 study found that while holders of bachelors degrees face an unemployment rate of 8.9%, those with only a high school degree face an unemployment rate of 22.9%, and high school drop-outs 31.5%. The new study contends that the prior study's findings hold, but that the tightening job market has reduced employability for students whose majors do not translate into usable career skills. One solution propounded by the new study: graduate school.

More cost, more debt.

Against this backdrop, Romney's statement that people should get "as much education as they can afford" reflects a complacency that is unjustified in a prospective President, however understandable it may be in a billionaire who was himself a child of privilege. Romney's invocations of the American Dream strike less as a call to action than as a narcotic anesthetizing the amputation of that dream.

Education really is the silver bullet. We deserve better.

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