Economics, Education and Inequality

Levels of income and education are tight partners, and not embracing education promotes inequality.  Truly, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and a reason is because the rich are potently and systematically educated, and the poor are not. 

 Median income of persons 25 or over with professional degrees was $90,220, persons with associate degrees was $40,820, and persons without high school diplomas was $24,492, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Population Survey in 2012.  Unemployment for persons 25 or over with professional degrees or higher was 2.1 percent and for persons without high school diplomas was 12.4 percent. 

 Persons aged 16 to 24 not enrolled in school was 79.3 percent of the U.S. population in October 2012.  If only 20.7 percent of persons aged 16 to 24 in the U.S. are enrolled in school, and education is partnered with income, and income is the measure for inequality, then 79.3 percent of the population are disadvantaged.  That disadvantage undermines the U.S. economy and political strength, and compromises future progression in the global arena.

 Attempting to start or switch a career, that is above basic labor skill and pay level, without a college degree or graduation from a trade school becomes increasingly more difficult.  This is true in the U.S. and many other countries.  Since academic scores for the U.S. compared to 64 other countries are dismal, employers and investors will not be concentrating efforts to find the brightest, most motivated minds in the U.S.

 To obtain a pool of qualified job applicants, many employers advertise all across the nation.  Some governments and international companies seek globally for the most qualified applicants.  This is the same as going to the market or shopping online and carefully selecting the clothing, or electronics that best match your needs, no matter where they were designed, engineered or manufactured.   Applicants selected who have the best qualifications have the potential to prosper.  Rejects are left to wallow and await other, perhaps inferior opportunities. 

 Right now and for many years the U.S. has enjoyed an economy and government greater than any other nation.  But, the attitude that greatness without academic superiority will go on forever, especially in the jet-setting, Internet global arena is ignorant.

 In the U.S. kindergarten through high school is publicly funded.  Taxpayers fund this education for the purpose of producing persons viable to the economic and political future of the U.S. nationally and globally.  But, since inequality is at 79.3 percent, this program is not efficient.

 A reason for this inefficiency is that one in four high school students drop out.  A reason for this high drop out rate is that some students, beginning in the lowest levels, are not performing to grade standards.  Lack of motivation is a reason some students are not performing.  Performing or not, though, almost all students in public schools are regularly advanced to the next level.  Being advanced into a situation that is not comprehensible is frustrating and overwhelming for the student, and counterproductive for taxpayers. 

 Studies show that students in higher income school districts generally out perform those in lower income districts.  But randomly transplanting students will not magically improve academic achievement or, conversely, impoverish those who truly want to be educated and involved in bettering humanity.  “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” Nelson Mandela said.  He was right. 

 Methods promoting the desire and tools needed to become the best a person can be should be studied and implemented in the U.S. education system.  Students with a desire to learn, regardless of their economic status, should be nurtured.  Without the desire and implementation of tools to become the best, inequality is self-perpetuated.  Inequality allowed to rampantly, negligently continue will divorce the U.S. economy from national growth and global competitiveness.

 Joan Brown ~ contributor