In light of President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address, I thought it appropriate to touch upon his proposal to do away with the 529 Higher Education Tax Free Savings Plan and replace it with comprehensive college cost reform, including making community college free. There are mixed feelings surrounding this idea but I for one agree that saddling our new grads with obscene amounts of student loan debt takes a toll not only on our young professionals but also on the economy, particularly the Middle Class.
Since the mid-1960’s, Baby Boomers began earning college degrees in droves for a fraction of the cost of their children, due to federal subsidies fueled by a national push to ensure college for all. Although a noble idea, there were so many students earning their Bachelor’s degrees that over time the four-year college achievement was watered down –some now consider it a mere extension of high school. But to work your way up to or maintain middle class status, it seems that you still must go to college.
To further discuss the impact a requisite college diploma has on America’s Middle Class and the future of such education necessities for our children, is Johanna Campbell, M.A. in Applied English Linguistics.
Every Parent Just Wants the Best for their Kid
As I am not a parent, I will avoid speaking as one. Instead, I will tell you what I hear from my parents: their desire is always for their kids to have more, be more, do more than they did.
Perhaps this sounds familiar. Perhaps it is true. It’s certainly apparent that the desire comes from a place of love, because love is the only thing daft enough in this world for someone to slave away at a life of toil for someone else to reap the rewards.
Of course I jest. A bit. But there’s an undercurrent going on here, an economical phenomenon that at some point will implode from lack of sustainability.
The Stakes Keep Getting Higher
Most Americans self-classify as middle class. This has been a category to which most Americans have assigned themselves for decades. Distinction within the broad spectrum ranges from “lower middle” to “upper middle”, but the basic tenants remain the same: at the end of bill-paying, there’s enough left in the coffers to throw at retirement, plan a vacation, and still buy a latte. Christie L. Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project, a research and advocacy group, says she considers “middle class to be people who can live comfortably on what they earn, can pay their bills, [and] can set aside something to save.”
Thus was she quoted in a January 26 article in the New York Times. It used to be that movement within the classes was predominantly upward. Now, apparently, middle class shrinkage is due to movement in quite the opposite direction.
Higher Education May Get You to Middle Class
It’s interesting to consider what role education has played in this retrogression. Most middle-class adults, the article claims, reached their status through higher education. Arguably, in a sea of economic swings moving ever-backward, forward mobility is happening. Socioeconomic standing can improve because academics take focus. How interesting that such ever-shrinking ground still has room to welcome more. All that need happen is personal transfiguration, requiring nothing more than education. But how can one accomplish this? One is taught to pursue it.
Questioning Our Teachings – What’s Most Important?
Children don’t miss much. They pay attention to the lessons adults don’t always know they’re teaching. What is your curriculum focused around? Spending time where it matters most? Teaching kids the hard work behind the latest gadget and the newest gizmo? Encouraging them in the education that it took – that it takes – to buy the stuff? Really, what are we teaching our children? What are we teaching them? Because I assure you, they’re learning the lessons. Every adult I know, including myself, carries the teachings of childhood that parents didn’t know they were imparting.
Education is what you put into it. What you learn is what you work for, and what you work for is what’s important to you. It all comes full circle.
Guest Blogger Bio: Johanna Campbell, M.A. in Applied English Linguistics
The most recent addition to the IHS editing staff, Johanna Campbell brings over a decade of writing and editing experience to the team. She has worked as an education consultant in the oil and gas industry for over seven years. She previously taught at the University of Houston, where she also received her Master’s in Applied English Linguistics.
Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student, which includes Academic, Behavior, Special Education Advocacy, and School Placement services. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com.