In the previous parts of this series the education system was explored from the perspective of return on investment (ROI) to the individual and to society; the value of the credential the individual receives when he or she leaves it; the separation of education and training deemed essential to be productive in society; and the separation and overlap of the education, government, and production (business) bubbles in society. In the United States, and many other countries as well, young people must remain in school until 18 years of age, the point at which they should have earned a high school diploma. A select segment of this population may continue with higher levels of education while some engage in specialized training, all at their expense (at least partially). Employers do not pay for “education” other than through the payment of taxes, like the rest of us. The “system” however is getting very costly. What might be an alternative?
As a single example, consider the following alternative for post secondary (high school) education/training, for which demand continues to grow. The field is omphaloskepsis, selected because it is an obscure field with business potential and avoids the debate for where it will work – for now. For completeness, omphaloskepsis is contemplating one’s navel and is a rapidly growing field. A company needs qualified omphaloskepsis workers with the potential for advancement because of tertiary (post-secondary) education. Workers are hard to find because of the necessary skill set needed and the cost to a company doing it itself is prohibitive.
Along comes another company (an academy) that can provide skilled workers that are not yet certified but are capable of doing the work. These are interns (perhaps managed by the academy) performing tasks assigned by the omphaloskepsis company. It may be done locally or at a distance. Essentially the academy is providing trained and skilled labor for omphaloskepsis while providing the student training, income, knowledge and college credit leading to a credential (degree). Obviously, the academy must be working with other institutions in the tertiary educational system. Essentially, the student completes his or her “major” first through an earn-while-you-learn program.
The high school graduates enter the academy of their own free will and can depart whenever they want. Upon entry, the student is assigned to a room with another student; receives all meals; has a clothing allowance; has a monthly personal allowance; and his or her tuition, books, and supplies are covered. In return, the student must perform satisfactorily academically and work half time as an intern during the school year and full time during the summer break.
Here are some student numbers:
Housing: Two-student dorm rooms with minimal essential furnishings but access to communal group space: $350.00 per student per month.
Subsistence (food): Group dining. Estimate of $400.00 per month.
Clothing allowance: Estimate of $100.00 per month.
Personal allowance: $250.00 per month.
Tuition, fees, books, and supplies: $1,000.00 per month.
The sum is $2,100.00 per month.
Now consider the student income managed by the academy as an intern to a company or an employee of the academy. Assume the entry wage for an omphaloskepsian is $46,000.00 per year and the intern works at 90 percent pay. In the model above, the student would earn $25,725.00 during the year. The cost per student (managed by the academy) would be $2,100.00 per month or $25,200.00 per year. At the end of two years the student would receive an “AA” degree, a certificate if appropriate, be half way through college, have $1,050.00 in his or her pocket, and no college loan indebtedness.
Are the numbers perfect? Absolutely not. But I believe they are in the ballpark. Is everything included? Absolutely not. What about medical care, for instance? How about taxes? This makes it very complex. And can the academy operate on a tuition based income of $2.4 million a year for say 200 students? It is easy to pick at the cost numbers based on personal assessments such as what is acceptable food. On the other hand, what is the realistic wage for each student? All of the students are working in the field of study and earning money while their work reinforces their study.
Am I biased in this suggestion? Yes, I went to an academy. Whether it will work in other disciplines needs to be determined. Is the college degree or certificate essential? We continually, as a society, are moving in that direction because of the growth of technology, knowledge and evolving culture. And we have to be able to afford it. What are your ideas about education at all levels? Make them known and get involved.