Continuing Thoughts on the Cost of College

I read Seth Godin’s Stop Stealing Dreams this week somewhere between JFK and Seattle. It is worth the read if you think that we have to do something to change the education system in our country. I don’t agree with all of it but its worth a discussion as the other fact I saw this week was, “The average in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges last fall rose 8.3 percent and, with room and board, now exceed $17,000 a year.” Which is higher than the 2011 health care cost increases of 5.7%.

There are no easy answers. We need to get a much better output from the US education system or all our kids are going to be woefully unprepared for the global economy.

My list for debate:

1. Teachers Don’t pay Federal Taxes. After teaching for three years you don’t pay any federal taxes. Only lasts as long as you are actively teaching full time. We need to get the best into teaching and maybe this will entice all these highly skilled baby boomers/retirees back where we could use their help.

2. Every Kid in America gets an iPad/Tablet. We need to support self directed learning and the tools to make that possible. Lets say we start with 10-12 year olds roughly assuming 10 million of them in the US. Assume at volume you can get a tablet for $500 a piece this is a $5 Billion dollar a year commitment.  You then get Apple, Google, and Microsoft to give free software for each device in exchange they get limited Ad’s and this will easily recoup the ongoing software/insurance maintenance costs.  This instantly creates an overnight market for educational and software developers at scale.

3. Each US State takes 2% of its education funds to start their own non profit version of the Khan Academy’s . That way we go from 3,100 to 155,000 free video courses for kids to access on their own.  Get more volunteers building courses and in Vermont that would be $28 Million towards free video content for every kid to learn from.

4. Require work study. In both High School and College. Let kids try out jobs and figure out what they want to do. Have local companies hire/train/pay them and have 50% of the funds go into a life time education savings account. You could use it on College, Tech School, Continuing Ed, etc. Have the government match for AmeriCorps, Military Service, etc. IE if you do VT National Guard for four years while at college you would get double the money in your education savings account.