Well, it’s official.
The U.S. Education Department’s new way of determining a student’s need for financial aid will disqualify 81,000 students from receiving Pell Grants, the Government Accountability Office said in a report last week, a conclusion that confirmed earlier predictions by many higher-education lobbyists.
I have observed in the past that we just keep seeing a string of actions that incrementally erode education in this country, whether it’s a persistent chipping away at ed budgets and financial support, as here, or teach-to-test methodologies that have the same long-term effects on the intellectual health of the culture as dumping students’ brains into a blender and setting it puree. There are other problems, as well, and commenters on some of my past posts have rightly noted that while the current culprits are Republican, there have been plenty of times in the past 20-30 years where Dem education leaders could have used a good butt-kicking, as well.
That said, let’s have a quick gander at what the aforementioned GOP culprits have done this time. I guess this is part of the administration’s Leave No Rich Child Behind initiative. Here are another 81,000 kids – per year – who just got sucked deep into a debt hole they’ll be lucky to climb out of before their 50th birthday. College expenses are soaring, and you’re talking about a segment of students who don’t have enough money to afford a good college education without some help. So they turn to loans, because the alternative is trying to get ahead in life with a high school education. It can be done, but let’s be honest about the odds, shall we?
Speaking as a guy who’s still a few years away from paying off the loans I racked up in my doctoral progam (and whose wife is in a similar spot with undergrad loans), I can tell you that our whole system not only raises questions about national productivity (a nation that doesn’t assure the best education of its population is going to get waxed on all fronts by competitor nations that make sure its citizens are optimally prepared for all the challenges confronting its society), it raises questions about the simple economic health of the country. We don’t have a lot of spare cash left at the end of each paycheck, and I wonder what would happen if all of a sudden you were to convert America’s collective student debt load into pure disposable income. And for the moment I’ll save the obvious moral questions attending a system that only affords certain benefits to its privileged classes for another day.
I know it’s not a simple issue (but as an American, don’t I have a right to simplistic answers to incredibly complex questions?). However, the more I look at it the more I see a system that could have been designed as a drag on the economy. Plunging another 81K kids deeper into a well of debt does nothing except serve the interests of….who?
Hmmm. Let’s see, an action that significantly impedes the unfettered pursuit of greater knowledge, that would seem to benefit those who don’t want middle and upper working class kids getting too educated.
Hunh. It’s almost like they want us dumb, isn’t it?