Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The President's Education Speech

The president's speech mentions affordable college below is an excerpt:
That’s why I’ve set some ambitious goals for this country. ... And producing 8 million more college graduates by 2020 so we can have a higher share of graduates than any other nation on earth.

In a single generation, we’ve fallen from first to twelfth in college graduation rates for young adults. That’s unacceptable, but not irreversible. We need to retake the lead. If we’re serious about making sure America’s workers – and America itself – succeed in the 21st century, the single most important step we can take is to offer all our kids – here in Austin, here in Texas, and across this country – the best education the world has to offer. ...

But we also know that in the coming decades, a person’s success in life will depend more and more not on a high school diploma, but on a college degree, on workforce training, on a higher education. And so, today, I’d like to talk about the higher education strategy we’re pursuing not only to lead the world once more in college graduation rates, but to make sure our graduates are ready for a career; ready to meet the challenges of a 21st century economy.

The first part of our strategy has been making college more affordable. I don’t have to tell you why this is so important – many of you are living each day with worries about how you’re going to pay off your student loans. We all know why. Even as family incomes have essentially flat-lined over the past thirty years, college costs have grown higher and higher. Over the past decade, they’ve shot up faster than housing, faster than transportation, even faster than health care costs. No wonder the amount student borrowers owe has risen almost 25 percent over the past five years.
Isn't producing 8 million more college graduates by 2020 the wrong goal. Shouldn't we first say what skills and knowledge do we want people to have?  Shouldn't we ask  and what is the most efficient way to deliver on that goal.  When people say at we need more education we should all ask them why and what.  If all we want is more college graduates that is easy, all we need to do is make school easier, cheaper, and more enjoyable for the students but I do not think that is what anybody wants (with the possible exception of Tyler Cowan).

We alway need to keep in mind that correlation is not causation.  Having a college degree correlates with all kinds of good things but that does not mean that what is taught and trained in college produces those good things.

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