Wise investments

To the Journal editor:

America can make no better investment than in its young adults.

President Biden’s forgiveness of college student loan debt does nothing to solve higher education’s runaway financial costs nor does it serve future students or those seeking further training and skills outside academia.

In 1892, a Committee of Ten, formed by the National Education Association, recommended eight years of elementary education, four years of high school, and a five day school week.

In the early 1900s, those with greater education received earnings 1.5 to 2 times higher than those with less. High school attendance rose sharply. Most were seeking an education that would provide a better job with no interest in attending college (http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:32785054).

Today, for the same reasons, we should advance our 100-year-old K-12 public education system into the 21st century in order to meet the needs of an increasingly complex society.

A high school education used to have greater value back in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. Then, a family could get by on just one income. Paid sick leave and vacation time were separate, not compressed into personal time off. Defined pension plans were more prevalent and stable, compared to today’s ever shrinking employer-matched 401K retirement plans.

From 1979-2019, the average income of those with a high school diploma declined 12%, while those with a master’s degree or higher increased 18% (cbsnews.com Nov. 11, 2019 average income).

An inclusive K-14 school system would go a long way in improving upon these discrepancies. A consolidated, capped federal voucher system could be one approach. The enhancement could include three tracks: the decision not to advance past 12th grade; those pursuing apprenticeships, certificates, one- and two-year programs; and finally, those wishing to continue onto a four-year degree or higher.

To assist state and local governments in funding this upgrade, adjust the federal top tax bracket rate for income over $609,350 (2024) from 37% to 45%, below 1932-1986 levels. Think of it as paying it forward.

There is no better way to help others than to assist them in helping themselves. By providing a student a viable avenue to continue their education and training, we not only improve upon their chances of leading a successful and satisfying life, but we further enable them to better contribute to society and the economy.

Politically, free K-14 is a progressive, forward-leaning idea. Nationally, it’s a prudent investment.




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