Sunday, July 25, 2010
A Confederacy of Dunces
Here is a frightening story from National Public Radio:
A new report warns that the United States is falling farther and farther behind other countries in the proportion of adults with a college education. Researchers say the decline could have devastating economic and social consequences for the country.
According to the College Completion Agenda, no more than 40 percent of the U.S. adult population has a college degree, and even though most high school graduates enroll in college, only 56 percent earn an undergraduate degree in six years or less. The completion rate drops even more in community colleges, where only 28 percent earn a degree in three years or less.
"It's a very serious problem. People like never before in the United States understand how critical it is to get an education," says Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, which commissioned the study. He says the U.S. is losing its competitive advantage in the world because it's not producing nearly enough people with the level of education necessary to keep high-paying jobs from leaving the country.
The study doesn't single out any one cause, in part because there are so many, but it does cite students' transition from high school to college as a major issue. For example, the commission found that more than a quarter of college students require remedial classes in reading, writing and math. Community colleges know this all too well.
[T]he United States ranks fourth in postsecondary attainment for citizens ages 55 to 64. The United States trails the Russian Federation, Israel and Canada in this age group. As America's aging and highly educated workforce moves into retirement, the nation will rely on young Americans to increase our standing in the world. However, ... among citizens who are ages 25 to 34 in developed countries, the United States ranks 12th. Among this key demographic group, Canada, Korea, the Russian Federation, Japan, New Zealand, Ireland, Norway, Israel, France, Belgium and Australia are ahead of the United States. Also, Denmark and Sweden are close to parity with our nation.
With priorities like ours, you get this. Eventually, our kids won't be able to operate the weapons we build for them.
Or, by then, more likely they'll be the weapons we buy from someone else, because we won't know how to make them, either.
Thanks for putting some meat on the bones of my intuition.