As a young child, we were told that education is the key to a bright future. All parents tell that to their children and we hear that over and over again as we grow up. But cliché as it may seem, parents know best. Education equips a young person with the knowledge, skills, and attitude you need to face the real world someday and practice the profession you have chosen.
While being street smart always come in handy in the real world, being educated is an edge you have over other people in the workforce. Moreover, you can qualify for more specific job roles that require specific training and education in the field with a degree in your hand. The downside is that education is expensive. If you can manage to graduate at all, you’d likely have accumulated a lot of student debt that will take years before you can finally pay off.
We’ve all heard the many pundits and researchers claim that our country’s current educational model is simply not sustainable for the vast majority of students and families who want to engage in it, now and in the future.
Costs are soaring and student debt is escalating, with the national student loan debt at $1.41 trillion, leaving us to wonder exactly why are higher education prices so exorbitant and will the return on our investment actually be sufficient to prepare our children effectively for life after college. And we wonder if our children will be learning what’s needed today to become a highly contributive professional in this new digital world.
The aim of the country’s education system should be to educate the youth and prepare them for adult life but the opposite seems to be the case because it appears that profit comes first for most schools rather than providing quality education.
On the issue of the UNM budget problem, we have to face the unspeakable fact that the modern university is a business corporation with education as a side product and not a main mission.
To finance this radical change that started about 1992 at UNM with the Reagan era idea of public-private partnerships, many departments have been basically privatized. They were tasked with raising most, if not all, their own funds. Education was no longer a public service, but a market seeking product. Public schools at all levels have had to do this as a way to support the neoliberal trickle down theory. State legislatures loved this as it allowed them to cut taxes for the rich.
This idea was supposed to free up budget money for education, but privatization turned out to only be a smokescreen for a huge move into corporate and military research. Public institutions like UNM all have a non-profit status, too, which allowed more private sector profits and encouraged the sports arm of the universities to become corrupt entertainment industry functions.
Large corporations like GM and pharmaceutical firms started scaling back their own research departments and contracted out their needs to universities, selling them as opportunities for “students to learn hands on skills,” etc. It was tax exempt too. Supposedly a win-win idea, right? Wrong.
Under neoliberal public-private partnerships the benevolent rich were suppose to turn over their excess wealth to help fund public education. What they did when President BillClinton repealed the Glass-Stengel Act was start a mega merger movement with many relocating to places like China and other low wage countries. They have basically under this smokescreen abandoned the American working class. Donald Trump used this to make his own job at the White House. Liberals in both the Democratic and Republican Parties many still have not figured this out, but Donald did.
Schools are asking for exorbitant tuition fees from students who only want nothing but to learn whatever they need to prepare them for life after graduation without breaking the bank. However, what they get in return is a student loan that they would have to struggle in paying for years.
While the government ensures the youth has access to primary and secondary education for free, it is a different case for students who want to pursue higher education. Just the cost of college and university education in itself is enough to discourage young people from even considering getting a degree in the first place when the state should actually be promoting education for all. Again, Education is the key to a successful future and unless the government can find a way to provide students with what they need, we may end up as a country with a working class full of immigrants and outsiders.