Later on today, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is scheduled to speak to an audience in Broward County Florida. Duncan intends to discuss the rising cost of college tuition, a subject President Obama recently drew attention to during his recent State of The Union address.
“So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down,” Obama said in his speech. “Higher education can’t be a luxury – it’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”
According to the Miami Herald, “Duncan said he would like to see financial incentives for teachers who take jobs in struggling schools –- or who teach high-demand subjects like math and science
He also said he envisions first-year teachers making $60,000 –- and the best and brightest drawing salaries in excess of $150,000.”
But while those salaries are all well and good, it is unlikely that financial incentives that aim to draw in “better” teachers will help struggling schools. This is because the problem with struggling schools has nothing to do with teachers. The true problem is the struggling neighborhoods in which those schools are situated. And until these dilapidated neighborhoods improve, all attempts to provide quality education for the children who reside in these districts will fail.
President Obama went on to say he wanted the nation to “grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.” But both Race to The Top and No Child Left Behind require states to develop an evaluation process (read: a test) to qualify for federal aid. Therefore, the President’s statement was essentially a giant contradiction.
Most people agree that education in this country is in decline. And as world markets get more and more specialized and competitive, a problem in education will certainly transform into a problem in the American economy. Compound Stock Earnings, a company that specializes in educating people about smart economic decisions, sees the problem at the government-level as well. “The truth is,” a spokesperson from the company said, “the nation doesn’t do as much as it should to educate people.”
The President has placed great emphasis on the importance of higher education, but his policies for k-12 education actually hinder student performance. While rising tuition rates is certainly a problem worthy of addressing, lower tuition rates won’t matter if kids can’t get accepted into college in the first place.