Obviously the jobs issue (or lack of jobs really) is the number one issue concerning Americans right now. Unemployment rates hover around 9 percent. But the real story is behind the numbers. That nine percent number is being driven primarily by people without a high school education. Here are the numbers for August 2011 from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Less than high school education 14.3%
High school graduates (no college) 9.6%
Some college or associates degree 8.2%
Bachelors degree or higher 4.3%
Yes, read those numbers again. Our economic problems are based mostly on the unemployment rate for people 25 and over without a high school degree. Now, think about the consequences of that – people in generational poverty; people who are using the emergency medical services because that is all they have; people who are having to use governmental assistance programs to get by.
So education is an important issue at both ends. On one hand, we hear about how our students are not stacking up well globally and that this is only getting worse. And something must be done. But at the other end, having people without the basic high school education will be a drain on our resources for years to come.
So you choose where we (taxpayers) should spend our money? Keep students in school and educate them so that they can be competitive and I bet a lot of these other social problems are diminished.
Stacy Landreth Grau, Ph.D.
Neely School of Business – Texas Christian University
Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Marketing
CIS Tarrant County Board Member