#126. Education – Get It!

Posted on | The Agurban
Education – Get It!

In most parts of the country, the first week of June marks the start of summer vacation from school for students from pre-school age to college age. Interestingly the past week’s news media contained many reports about various aspects of education.

The New York Times had an article entitled “Why is Income Inequality in America So Pronounced? Consider Education”. The first paragraph stated “The most commonly cited culprits for the income inequality in America – outsourcing, immigration and the gains of the superrich – are diversions from the main issue. Instead, the problem is largely one of (a lack of) education.”

“Starting about 1950, the relative returns for schooling rose, and then skyrocketed after 1980. The reason is supply and demand. For the first time in American history, the current generation is not significantly more educated than its parents.”

Another article pointed out that in most of the world, education is the No. 1 or No. 2 spending priority. In the U.S., education sometimes lands as far back as fifth place. The economy of the future will not depend on just physicists and physicians. Technicians, technical workers and skilled manufacturers will be just as important. While the U.S. is serving its top performers well in school, it could learn from other countries to prepare students who are less academically minded for the work force. In Shanghai, high school students not bound for college are sent to vocational high schools. One expert said that for businesses to thrive in the increasingly global economy, they must find workers who can adapt quickly and think for themselves. “The U.S. needs to do a better job of teaching young people to think critically.”

Finally, to prove that education does pay, not only to the workers, but also the communities, consider the small town Dundee, MI (population 3,522). Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA) has two plants in Dundee, which employ a total of 530 people. To be hired at GEMA, potential workers had to have a minimum of an associate’s degree or five years’ experience. According the GEMA, 44 percent of hourly workers at the two Dundee plants have at least an associate’s degree. Of the salaried workers, 71 percent have at least a bachelor’s degree, and 29 percent have a master’s degree.Ā 

After GEMA decided to locate their facilities in Dundee in 2002, a competing community’s local leader commented, “..the focus needs to turn toward education to be proactive, to make sure the next time a company comes, we’re educationally prepared for that to happen. If we do not understand..the true connection between educational attainment levels and economic development successes, we’ve failed.”

Education is important, as much now as ever before. A college graduate will earn over $1 million dollars more during a lifetime than a high school graduate. Are you doing everything possible to provide the best education to your community’s students?