Why is higher education seen as a cost and not an investment?

Sue Daugherty
Mar 23, 2010

After World War II 8 million veterans earned college degrees! With it, came leaders, businessmen, educators, scientists, millionaires and more. The social and technological advances we’ve all come to enjoy in the U.S.A. were sparked by the educational benefit of the G.I. Bill. As I see it, the “greatest generation” has given us all the evidence we need to prove that a higher education is an investment – NOT a cost. It’s a national investment that has paid huge dividends for the United States.

With this new-found knowledge, our country became wealthier, healthier and more powerful. Everyone gained -- not just the G.I.s. From higher learning came new ideas, innovations (a.k.a. jobs). Business and industry evolved (a.k.a. jobs), economic conditions evolved (a.k.a. jobs), as well an improved understanding of religion, human behavior, foreign cultures, arts, medical science, the list goes on.

So tell me, why are people opposed to having our federal government (the taxpayers) fund higher education for Americans who have a thirst for knowledge?

Think about it. People with a higher education will, in all probability, pay more taxes compared to those who lack a higher education? This higher taxpayer base is just one of the returns on this investment. There are other returns  too. Higher education makes a nation’s people more competitive, more innovative and more productive. Again paying the country back for the higher education its citizens received.

If developing countries -- China, India, even Vietnam -- see the value of investing in and turning out greater numbers of educated citizens. I can only wonder why Americans still see education as a cost.

Let me ask you this, if the United States were to offer you a college education to develop a knowledge base and skill set that is needed yet lacking for the U.S.A. to remain competitive in this global economy, would you take advantage of it?

Comments

Anonymous

My thoughts are. Bill Gates = dropout. He's in good shape. Have you paid for your child's education Sue? Does higher learning promise a great job? It use to, but times certainly are changing aren't they? Know this. There is a difference between Knowledge & wisdom. Where I work we have educated people also. They are Pakistani or Indian nationals. Some of my relatives obtained degrees - only to be employed as a manager of a fast food place. There is no shame in that - yet those with "craftsmen" talent quickly find gainful employment.Does college really mean what it use to? IMO -no.

cm.sandusky

hmm...I can not understand the poor education in this country in first place. Schools are getting new football fields instead of books. Children are getting a college education because they know how to play football, baseball etc...
The kids that are blessed with rich parents simply go to college because it's the "cool" thing to do.(not all)
It's a very uneven playing field. There are a lot of very talented students out there that can't afford to attend any college.
I agree, everyone should be offered the same chance, but honestly I don't see it in this country.
In most european country apprentice jobs and trades are offered, thus making it easier for low income students to attain a trade and earning better wages in their future.

Anonymous

If I were younger, I would take advantage of government funded education. I have some college credits, all paid for by me. Now let me tell you about the real world. I have applied for jobs and promotions only to become a victim of reverse discrimination. In some instances, I had to teach my boss some things simply because I knew much more and was more qualified for the job.
Affirmative action hurt a lot of people that were most qualified.

And let us not forget about "who you know" to get ahead. Look at some of the people in public positions funded by taxpayer money. Nepotism always wins out no matter how much education one has.

Also look at all of the educated American people that lost their jobs when jobs were shipped overseas. Why is it that whenever I call for customer support, I get some person from India or Central America who can't speak English?

And if you are educated, you cannot get a low paying job because you are "over qualified" and other excuses.

But overall, you need to be educated and hope for a better job or have the smarts to invent a better mouse trap.

Anonymous

Good one....who you know.Very true. Here is another...pretty young female...flirts...gets hired/and or promoted. All this yet still need to be "carried" because she is incapable of performing mandated tasks.

Gulliver

Thought provoking question, Sue... if the United States were to offer you a college education to develop a knowledge base and skill set that is needed yet lacking for the U.S.A.... would you take it.

One of the things that I beleive no one is educating our nation for is HOW to teach. Kids today are much smarter than kids a generation ago, yet we still use (for the most part) the same methods. I believe if we want to kick start our economy, educate 2 million American adults on how to engage the minds of our youth using new & different/progressive methods that haven't even been invented yet. That would spark a real national comeback!

Anonymous

Hey other Art, look at the other post on Sue's site : The cost of being positive. There is a message for you.

Mick

It occurs to me that since the USA has transformed from an agro to an industrial to a service based economy we have left our remedial education structure in an agro based functioning capacity. If children were required to attend school 12 months a year perhaps, we would make strides to raise the mean average functioning level of our population. Another benefit of a 12-month calendar would by a more conducive time frame to offer a more rounded education. Various types of religious training could be offered as well as instructions in Intelligent Design. These classes would of course be offered as an addition to the current anti-God, anti-family curriculum offered in today’s public school system. All of these programs would be presented in a positive way I am sure. Our school boards could even be required to accept one Christian representative, for a small voice. Have a great day all! Welcome back Ms. Daugherty!

Anonymous

What did you learn in school? Do you know the 1rst reason this country was founded? Freedom of religion. While your right to worship who you deem appropriate is up to you, please don't feel the need to bring into the system. BTW I bet you are over 50. Why would anyone want young children in school all the time? IMO that is cruel. Children are young only once. Allow them to be children - that is a very small window until the real world comes at them.

Anonymous

Stick with basic items. A solid foundation in Math,Science, & English; chiefly spelling & writing skills. We as a nation can really build on those items. Leave all the fluff for some other place.

Mick

To “regarding My Name”, (would it be possible to let me be the only poster who uses MY name)

Thank you for the history lesson. While what you say is technically correct, I do not think I need to remind you of the words “In God We Trust” which was also used by the founding gentlemen. It is no secret this country was founded by Christians and structured with Christian ideals and values as a foundation for government. Religion needs to come out of the church and be part of our lives 24/7, not just on the occasional Sunday or family Holiday. Are not the terrorist using God everyday in their lives? We need to show them whose side God is really on!

As for the schoolchildren, I am sure some accommodations could be made, perhaps a few weeks off. Maybe shortened days, like they do in Bible school. What sounds more fulfilling? “How did you spend your summer?” “I slept in, went swimming and watched a lot of TV”. What if the answer was “I memorized the 10 commandments and obtained a firm understanding of Ecclesiastes. Which is more impressive and of value to the country?

Mick

One other short thought. An example of taking God out of the pulpit. I’ve done a little modeling, modest of course, just tennis shoes and some boxer/brief ads, that’s all. But my point is, on these “shoots”, as we models call them I always tried to invite some of the girls out for coffee an “Jesus” afterwards. I really believe I changed a few hearts and minds along the way as well a making some new friends.

cm.sandusky

growing up in europe, religion was a part of school...The difference is, it was a choice. We had religion class, and for those that chose not to attend, other classes were offered.
I'm agnostic..that said..my morals, values, nor religion have nothing to do with my education. I learned just fine without religion being part of my life.
I'm not at all saying that religion is a bad thing, but it has nothing to do with a good education, which in most part starts at home.

Anonymous

You seem decent, yet different. My summers were spent working at home on the farm. My Sundays were in church. I do not have anything against your or anyone elses choice for believing in a higher authority. Yet it scares me when you want it in school. No thank you. How many wars have been started in the name of religion? Far too many! We all know sunday christians. Here is how I am able to discern a true Christian. The true Christian is the same the other 6 days of the week. Pleeze! Keep faith out of public schools.

Anonymous

This s**t is done dude. Im talking to you art van de lay. I am for real and I will not have some assh**e mocking me. Im sick of you Studer cease or be punished. I know its you and you beter stop.

Anonymous

How the discussion turned from Federally funded eduction to religion in the schools. I thought religion in public schools was settled law.
As for federally funded education, well we better deal with primary education first. Local schools do not distribute books for students. They are given a textbook in the classroom. We have "dumbed down" our schools. If there is any expectation for the students it seems to be that they are equipped to pass some standardized test, of course locally they are not passing. As long as teachers are paid for babysitting without disipline, college will not cure the educational gap we have with other communities and countries. If only we could do something to motivate the students to care about "what they know" or "what they can learn". We might start by resinding those laws that require attendance and allow only those who study or at least try to learn, in the classroom. Let the rest stay home until their mischef is intolerable to there parents, or they respect and appreciate the cost of educating them.

Kottage Kat

Sue
We were blessed with Mom's that taught school, and also taught us the realtive knowlege that a higher education will be necessary for your/our future.
Parents today place no value on higher education. I would more than gladly get more education if the funds were made avaiable to me, even at 60 yrs. old. To better this country, what skills are needed and where do I sign up for education benefits. Thanks for another great blog entry Sue, you were a wonderful boss, and are a great gal. Keep em coming.

Mick

It seems like I hit on a nerve but that’s ok, that’s how we know we are alive correct? I certainly wasn’t trying to change the topic. I have the utmost respect and admiration for Ms. Daugherty and would not do anything to rock her boat, I’m not like the 3 or 4 stooges who sit in the rafters on this blog. What I was trying to communicate was that education starts at a much younger age that college. If we truly want to raise the mean level of academic functioning in this country we need to start when children are are in grade school, that is all I was stating. While I do find Intelligent Design, an exciting topic I must admit I’m not the advocate to talk to about it. My area of expertise has always been in the Right to Life movement. If you want to know how God designed your eyeballs don’t ask me, but if you want to start a picket line at an abortion clinic then I’m your guy! LOL! Good point to the guy who uses my name in his headings. There ARE Sunday morning Chritians and there are everyday Christians, like myself. I believe in taking God to the street, if Satan goes there, I want to go there. I find that Gods message goes just fine in the middle of a crowded bar. These places are left to work of devil, I say lets get in there and kick his butt out! One final thought, the lady mentioned “settled law”. In actuality there is no settled law. This is a catch phrase that liberals will use in their desperate attempt to protect Roe vs. Wade. In reality, with the correct Supreme Court appointees we can change anything! We all need to keep that in mind when we choose our leaders. Have a positively great New Years Day everyone!

Anonymous

I'll call you Rick ahem, if my saying your name ticks you off. I'm willing to guess Jesus was called a liberal by the Pharisees. You do remind me of that. Remember how they stated that Christ "hung" out with drunkards & sinners? Yes education also puffeth up. But like so many Rush Limbaugh, Newt's etc. they really turn me away from the "right." We need great schooling - just keep religion separate from school. It really does not & must not be placed together.

Rick Studer

Interesting premise, not very practical, but interesting. The sad but true fact is what the countries mentioned have in common is a cheap labor supply. China is not ahead of us in technology and science. They are ahead of us in people that are working for a coupe dollars a day. India is the same, sure, they have brilliant scientist but what sets them apart is they’ll work for half what Americans make. As for Vietnam, I don’t know what they do, I do know every shirt they make can only be washed once.

The real question should be “would you cut your standard of living in half to be the world leader”? Of course not, that would be crazy. What we need to stop doing is giving our technology away. It is very noble to raise the standard of living for other people but when it cuts our throats what is the point. An example, two years ago I read where GM sold a machine to the Chinese that allowed them to raise the quality on door and hood seems on their car manufacturing process. The same article mentioned that the Chinese car would cost $8000. How is that good for America and GM?

Now targeted “free education” they would be interesting. What if the government paid for medical school in exchange for a few years of working with the poor? How about staffing rural medical and dental centers for a few years, that would be something to look at. Maybe some fields where there is a shortage of applicants. I wouldn’t want to pay people to become stockbrokers or insurance salesman or lawyers. I would be for paying them not to choose those careers, but I’m sure a lawsuit would overturn the program.

Another thing to consider is that while an education is valuable we can’t all be professional. The country still runs on the backs of hard working people showing up everyday and doing unglamorous, sometimes-boring work.

(Jeff, you are confusing your Flem with your Kadiddlehopper)

Gulliver

TO KOTTAGE KAT: If you are age 60, then you qualify for free college education.provided there are empty seats in the class. However, because it's free you cannot get the formal credit for taking the classes. You can still reap the benefits of gaining knowledge for free. If there is space in the college class(es) you pay for your own books or lab fees, but tuition is free. Each college has a name for their senior citizen education grant program. At Firelands College I think its called SAGE.

TO RICK STUDER: Thanks for the thoughtful commentary. In addition to the points you made (good ones, too, I might add) consider this...

Our country thrived after 8 million Americans were given the opportunity to spend 4 years in an environment that opened their eyes to theories/possibilitiies/ideas/new ways of thinking. Where would we be now (as a country) if those 8 million would have been relegated to their 12 years (or less) of education. It's highly doubtful that we would have (for example)satellites and all of the other innovations/occupations that have evolved from it.

Most people need to be in the right environment to: #1 Discover their intellectual capacity. #2 Put their intelligence and new found knowlege into a practical application. Not everyone is a Wilber/Orville Wright, Thomas Edison or a Bill Gates. Although it would be nice if we were.

I contend that by creating an national environment that develops an adult's knowledge and intellectual capacity, new occupations will also be created. Occupations that you & I can't even imagine!!

Just as no one thought the horse & buggy would ever be replaced... along came Henry Ford creating occupations (professional & non-professional) few people had the intellect to even dreamed of.

I agree not everyone can be a white collar professional. But remember, with new professional fields comes the need for non-professionals to do the grassroots work (ie, factory work, sales, distribution, maintenance & repair, etc...).

I agree with your point about our wages compared to those of developing countries. Developing countries do have the advantage of attracting the short sighted & and the greedy. But I also think this recession, coupled with this year's holiday shopping season has opened the eyes of our corporate leaders.

Clearly, if Americans aren't working who is going to consume the stuff stuff that's being made? At 10 cents an hour, there aren't enough people making the wages necessary to do the amount of consuming we Amaericans have been known for. So tell me... who do they think is going to buy their product if their consumer base is earning a dollar a day?

Anonymous

Cheap labour? We also have cheap leadership. The economy can't support any fat anywhere. For years America has had too much overhead in the form of management. The rent is due. Higher education does not assure success in today's world.

Rick Studer

reRicK Studer said "Higher education does not assure success in today's world. "

"No education assures mediocrity and poverty"

Haha

Barack Obama has a degree and now we are all going to be s c r e w e d! Gas prices are up today. Just think he might be behind or is the reason why they went down for a short time. get ready to pay 2.50 a gallon again soon!

Anonymous

Rick there is a difference between knowledge & wisdom. Let's see: Edison,Martin Luther,Bill Gates, on & on. No I'm not against higher education. It is just the attitude that often follows it. Before one can lead they must serve. America got to work on that one. (Dr.Demming).

Anonymous

Ms. Daugherty didn't answer your question about what jobs are lacking people to fill them... I read this on www.jumpstartinc.org"
"The good news: Northeast Ohio has an abundance of jobs in high-technology and bioscience fields, a sign that the old industrial region is having some success reshaping its economy."

The bad news: If qualified workers can’t be found, those innovative companies are going to think about growing elsewhere.