The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Columns

June 29, 2013

'Big Joe' Clark: The problem isn't the cost of education

Tuition costs have been on the rise. This is likely not news to you but it’s still having a large impact on not only our future generations but also our current economy. According to Mary Kane at Citi, student loan debt makes up nearly a third of all non-mortgage debt in the United States, approximately $1 trillion in total.

From 2002 through 2012, the Higher Education Price Index, which measures the cost of obtaining a college degree, has risen 35 percent; while the Consumer Price Index, a common measure of inflation, during the same time period has gone up just 25 percent. Without serious changes enacted by Congress, it is unlikely we see any substantial transform to the rising tuition trend. The Council on Foreign Relations reported that while the U.S. spends more money than any other developed country on K-12 public education, our students ranked 14th in reading and 25th in math based on the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment survey. Something is broken here and we can’t expect future generations to be able to compete on the global stage unless the education system is fixed. However, one of the things that can be changed is who teaches our children.

Simply improving the quality of the educator has a significant material impact on students. Eric Hanushek of the NBER published a study in 2010 that showed by having a teacher who is above average could improve a student’s lifetime earnings by nearly $400,000. Hanushek also noted that in order to determine the success of a teacher, our school systems must better evaluate the quality of our educators. Unfortunately, current assessment techniques as well as ambiguity in educational policy, according to Hanushek’s research, have not been up to par to effectively accomplish this deferential of teacher performance.

There has been and there will always be those who try to ‘game’ the system. This was one of the faults of No Child Left Behind. When teachers’ compensation is tied to standardized testing scores of their students it’s unrealistic to assume there wouldn’t be cases of teacher-assisted cheating. The problem we face today is like changing a tire on a car that’s still on the road; we must fix the quality of education our children are receiving while they are receiving it.

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  • underwood mug [Duplicate] [Duplicate] Scott Underwood: Headlines can capture imagination I'd just left the newspaper office one morning and was driving north on Jackson Street, when I stopped at a red light and glanced at the rearview mirror.

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  • Charo Boyd: 'My Social Security' simplifies your life So many people buzz through extremely busy and complicated schedules these days. A smartphone in one hand, a computer in front of you, and a digital task list that never seems to end. In addition, to complicate things just a little more, there’s another event you need to add to your list — National Simplify Your Life week.

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  • Maureen Hayden: 9/11 Commission chair scolds Congress for national security failures Retired Congressman Lee Hamilton has warned of the perils of political ideology, calling the body where he spent 34 years “noxiously partisan.” Now, he worries the divide is downright dangerous.

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  • Vaughan, Nancy mug [Duplicate] Nancy Vaughan: Fireworks and fireflies mean summer in full swing Hasn't July been a fabulous month? It began with multiple fireworks venues and parades and ends with fairs and football in full swing. We have been blessed with mild weather and if you haven't had to travel much outside of the county, roadwork has been minimal.

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  • Ken de la Bastide: City unions go without contracts for many years How Anderson deals with unions has changed dramatically over the years. In the past it would have been unheard of for union members to continue to work without a contract or an agreed upon deadline. But members of three unions that represent Anderson city employees have been working without a new contract agreement for up to seven years.

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  • Jim Bailey: Traveling by passenger train was a page from the past My wife doesn’t remember riding on a full-fledged passenger train as a baby. Our children have never ridden. It’s an experience rapidly going the way of the horse and buggy and the stagecoach throughout a nation now obsessed with jumbo jets and sport-utility vehicles.

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  • Howard Hewitt: When it comes to wines, small can be very good Repeating the familiar is an easy way to go through life as is taking the safe road. We all do that but find unexpected rewards when taking the path less traveled. That little bit of philosophy applies to visiting wine country.

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  • Maleah Stringer: Hats off to the staff at Animal Protection League I often talk about the wonderful volunteers and community support we have at the Animal Protection League. And that volunteers are every non-profits "life blood" this is true for the Animal Protection League as well.

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