Welcome to the (New) American Manifesto. You can think of it as a Presidential agenda, a compilation of policies aimed at improving America, one step at a time. Some of these will be radical, some reformist, and others obvious. But each suggestion is guaranteed to be something new, innovative, and outside our leaders’ mainstream discussion. My first policy suggestion will be dedicated to my fellow youth, who are increasingly finding college to be too expensive:
A Universal Post-Secondary Education System
In my last post about “Rigged Institutions,” I detailed how our current system of college education redistributes our money to for-profit colleges, while at the same time, burdening students with a massive load of debt. I concluded that if we agree that college is important, as other developed countries do, then a reasonable, logical alternative is a universal education system. We can’t press for such a system until we at least have some vision about what it would look like, and I had promised to map out some of the details, so here they are:
Make College Tuition Free – Fund It With Corporate Taxes
A universal college education system would not only help students, but also help large corporations, who would benefit from a skilled workforce. Now, I’m not saying that giving everyone a college education would lead to more jobs. This “skills gap” myth has already been busted. But a larger pool of skilled, trained workers would help business, who could avoid the training costs that come with high employee turnover. We spend $100 billion on education right now, and collect over $250 billion in corporate taxes. It’s been estimated that free college education would cost $127 billion. This seems like a good cushion, and if more revenue is needed, we could easily close some of the many corporate tax loopholes. That’s not from some socialist journal, but from Business Insider.
Stop Paying Large Standardized Test Companies for the Curriculum
College Board, the owner of the SATs, makes over $50 million in profit annually. What we get from that is suppressed creativity, a lot of “teaching to the test,” and generally stupid kids. It’s no wonder less than 25% of people think standardized testing helps public schools’ performance. Instead, we should decentralize the curriculum by letting states and/or municipalities develop their own. I don’t mean, let states teach creationism or pseudoscience, though powerful interests are pushing for that. But we can let teachers and schools have more control over teaching methods, while retaining stringent limits on teaching nonsense.
Establish Wage Standards for Teachers – Make It a Competitive Profession
Full disclosure: I got this idea from looking at Finland’s education system. Considering they’re ranked number 1 worldwide, it’s a good place to look. One key to making this happen, aside from establishing higher wage standards and allowing more independence with the material, is to have intensive teacher-training. West Virginia is already trying to implement a similar system. In Finland, since graduate education is also completely free, they’re able to require that teachers have a Master’s degree to be permanently employed. It’s a clear lesson: Investing in education now, especially teacher’s ed, will improve education for the generations to come.
Obama said in his inaugural speech, “…a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.” Elementary research shows that this picture of America has little grounding in reality. Giving everyone access to a college education can change that.