Inventors … What Will They Think of Next? Like these Japanese goggles that are supposed to curb hunger.
I keep seeing articles with inventions created by people all over the world, except the U.S. I can’t help but think our lack of inventiveness has a great deal to do with the current state of our economy today.
But, why is this? Are America’s best minds really attending college; or are only the minds that can afford it attending our nation’s universities? And is that the reason we are turning out a nation of educated idiots?
I had a sneaking suspicion that the concept of wealth purchasing education was not producing the best minds. And I kept seeing things like this:
According to the CDC, 66% of adults over the age of 20 are overweight or obese. That is approximately 140 million adults. Somewhere between 15 and 20 million Americans can be classified as alcoholics. As many as 50% of those on welfare are alcoholics. There are 225 million people over 18 years old and 32 million of them do not have a high school degree. There are 32 million adults or 14% who are illiterate (23% in California, 22% in New York, 20% in Florida, 17% in New Jersey). The United States’ spending per pupil in public schools at $9,266 is in the top 5 in the world. New York and New Jersey spend $14,000 per pupil and one-fifth of their adults are illiterate.
I wondered why we had gone from a nation of educational achievers to a nation of non-achievers. And this seems to explain how wealth relates to that:
The Ugly Numbers
Educational attainment is the single biggest determinant of lifetime income. As of 2008, 14% of Americans over 18 years old haven’t graduated high school, 31% have achieved a high school degree, 27% have earned a bachelor’s degree, and only 9% have earned an advanced degree. (Source: Turning America into a Nation of Idiots, Fat, Drunk and Stupid is No Way to go Through Life)
And this really stood out to me:
The median household income in the U.S. is $46,326.
The median household income of Asian households is 24% higher at $57,518.
The median household income of Black households is 35% lower at $30,134.
Asian households have a fantastic educational achievement, with 49% of Asians achieving a bachelor’s degree or higher. Black households have a higher percentage with no high school degree (18%) than they do with a bachelor’s degree or higher (17%). Hispanic households have even more dreadful levels of educational attainment with only 12% achieving a bachelor’s degree or higher, while a full 37% of Hispanics have not graduated high school. Even though 69 million Americans have attained a high school degree, many are functionally illiterate as our public school system has just matriculated them through the system. (Source: Turning America into a Nation of Idiots, Fat, Drunk and Stupid is No Way to go Through Life)
Buying Your Child’s IQ
Quite simply…you can’t! Either your precious offspring has been gifted by any number of things, including genetics or he/she hasn’t. According to an article in Scientific American, Neuroscientists have discovered anatomical reasons for intelligence:
Neuroscientists have used modern imaging methods to discover the neural correlates of intelligence as measured by these widely used tests. Many of these studies have examined the relations of IQ to brain anatomy, generally finding that greater grey matter volume or thickness across many brain regions correlates with higher IQ scores.
And other Neuroscientists believe using various regions of the brain contributes to intelligence:
Others have looked at functional measures taken while people perform tasks, generally finding that bilateral frontal and parietal regions are most often associated with performance on intelligence tests. (Source: Idle Minds and What They May Say about Intelligence)
But so far, there has not been a consensus that ability to pay has offered advanced intelligence.
Cuban Model of Education
So why are we limiting access to education to only those who can afford it?
Isn’t a better model one that gives equal access to all who seek an education and allow the natural process of elimination to occur?
Cuba has clearly demonstrated such a model with a high ranking system that has been doing well for years. Here are some reasons why:
Following the 1959 revolution, the Castro government nationalized all educational institutions, and created a system operated entirely by the government.
Irrespective of income or place of living, education at every level is free.
There is a strict maximum of 25 children per primary-school class, many of which have as few as 20. As of 2010, secondary schools are striving towards only 15 pupils per class.
Many schools open at 6.30 am and close 12 hours later, providing free morning and after-school care for working parents with no extended family.
Over half of Cuba’s 150,000 teachers have a master’s degree. (Source: Wikipedia Education in Cuba)
American students are no longer competitive. Why? Because only the wealthy can afford to apply to our nation’s top colleges, for the most part. And this leaves us with students who have a lot of money to party and attend to developing their social needs; but does it contribute to developing top minds in the world?
The facts of a relatively poor economy and a long-term continuous blockade on trade make the Cubans’ achievements more impressive. For the past forty years, education has been a top priority for the Cuban government. Cuba maintains twice the amount of public spending on education as its more wealthy neighbors, at 10% of GNP.
Cuba shows how important education is by keeping a student to teacher ratio of 12 to 1, which is approximately half of the Latin American average. In addition, the youth illiteracy rate in Cuba is close to zero, a figure unmatched by all other Latin American countries. Cuban schools are closely integrated with the community. Teachers are very active in the communities of the children that attend their schools, and build strong relationships with parents and families to enhance the learning process. It has been demonstrated that there is a strong commitment to the educational sector on the part of the government. Equal opportunity for a high quality education for all students is one of the key factors that explain why the Cuban educational success is not a miracle or an accident, but the result of many years of concerted efforts and commitments, by the government to its people. (Source: Wikipedia Education in Cuba)
What is a scholarship?
The term “scholarship” can have many meanings. At its most basic meaning, a scholarship is money for college that you will not be expected to repay. (Source: http://www.slfc.com/scholarships.html)
So, why can’t we change the way we view education, in the U.S.? Simply, because we have accepted it as the domain of the rich. We have downplayed the importance of seeking our best minds to enable our nation’s elite access.
For example, even where scholarships have been created — our nation has set up scenarios wherein our nation’s wealthy are using them, instead of paying for their children’s education which they easily can afford.
Let’s look at the recent scholarship of Justin Combs. Was it REALLY necessary for P. Diddy’s son, whose father is worth millions, to take a $54,000 scholarship to pay for his schooling at UCLA, instead of leaving those funds for a student who honestly cannot afford college?
Certainly, it was his right to accept it; because he earned it. But what does it say about his ethics when he partakes on an academic career, based on accepting a scholarship that he clearly doesn’t need? Wouldn’t it say more about his character if he could donate it to a less fortunate student who might benefit from it?
And what are we teaching people when we demonstrate this type of greed and stupidity, instead of demonstrating something classier, like benevolence?
But this does tend to demonstrate that good thinking is not the domain of education today. I can say that if I were Sean Combs, I would have asked my son to let the scholarship go and offered my own money, so that he could demonstrate something much richer…the concept of kindness and generosity. What a lesson that might have been!
Having said that, I’m sure this young man has done nothing different than what many rich white kids have done. You can’t tell me that he’s the first to have been financed through expensive private schools and take advantage of a scholarship that would have been better used for a less financially gifted student.
And what if our educational system really was fair. What if each and every student out there had the same access to all schools, based on their ability, rather than their father’s financial assets? Would Justin Combs or any of the other wealthy offspring of our nation’s elite really earn those scholarships? I think that is highly unlikely!
If educational competition were fair, many of our nation’s doctors and lawyers might be a tad bit more gifted, as well. Because, like in Cuba, they might pursue their careers based on intelligence rather than ability to pay.
For More from Jennifer Lawson-Zepeda, visit her blog @ http://lawsonzepeda.blogspot.com/