Guest Editorial: The invaluable value of education

A recent report is out that says the academic performance levels of people in the United States have dropped. This is not a surprise to a lot of educators, and others who are concerned about the value of education and its role in the preservation of our way of life.

Unfortunately, the dominant conditions that most citizens face on a daily basis tend to reinforce the notion that education is not a necessity; that it is even a waste of money to pursue education, especially higher education. And when the cost of college is factored in, it provides more fuel to the anti-education firestorm for those unable to come up with the ridiculous amount of money that is required for a quality education.

An example of one of the most lethal swords in the slaying of educational incentives is that of the student loan issue. One man, DW, is a 59-year-old male who accrued $79,000 in student loan debt. Over four decades he has paid back $175,000 and today still owes a balance of over $200,000!

Another story describes a person who borrowed $20,000 in 1991, graduated in 1994, is not behind in payments today, and currently owes $59,000! Somehow during that period, the loans were switched from one lender to another. The new lender hasn’t provided a record of payment details and can’t verify how the current amount owed was determined!

In all fairness, at least one of the individuals identified above had brief bouts of unemployment and requested periods of forbearance due to a lack of income. Interest accrued during those periods, however, may have contributed to the outlandish amount owed today.

The interesting thing about the student loan issue is that an educated populace benefits society. The more knowledge that people acquire, the more advanced the society becomes. When members of a country lack knowledge, it can devolve to the level of a pre-literate culture. If one can use the quality of writing that is seen over social media sites as evidence, the decline in literacy becomes painfully evident.

Unfortunately, along with the low quality of literacy, there is a growing trend wherein people are indignant and resent people pointing out grammatical errors in their social media posts, and a lot of people share this sentiment.

For some reason, the idea that good spelling and grammar are a must seems lost on many people who fail to realize that the purpose of good literacy skills is that of communication.

If people are not able to communicate properly, ideas they are trying to convey are totally lost. In addition, rules of grammar learned in school are skills necessary for employment. A person cannot even hold down a fast-food job if basic math and writing skills are absent.

If we think of the societal impediments to the acquisition of formal education, it is possible to see why there may be a wave of opposition regarding a college education, especially when the cost of a degree is juxtaposed to the amount of money people make once they graduate. In other words, there are many people who are employed with a college degree who have student loan debt that far outstrips their salaries.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. President Joe Biden made a promise to provide student loan relief to millions of Americans. According to those who know, the rationale behind the initiative is that it will help the economy. If people can hold on to more of their money, they have more to spend, hence benefitting the American economy.

Biden’s proposal stands to provide between $10,000 and $20,000 relief for people with student loan debt who earn less than $125,000 per year. Admittedly this amount is merely a drop in the bucket. The effort is appreciated, but more needs to be done.

Sadly, there is a group of Republicans who seriously resent the idea of student loan forgiveness and are rallying their forces to oppose Biden’s initiative. In addition to them, there is another group of Americans who feel that it is irresponsible to help people pay back their loans, and this is coming from people who were able to pay off their own loans without help.

These people don’t realize that when the student loan issue is coupled with the badmouthing of education, the USA might end up being designated as a third world country, and everyone might suffer. This is a distinct possibility if current attitudes don’t change. A Luta Continua.
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Reprinted from the Chicago Crusader)

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