Importance of Education in Society Essay

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The school wasn't always my priority. Growing up, I used to hate going to school, especially every summer. I did horribly since my parents were always at work and I could not get the proper help, which meant I had summer school almost every year from elementary until high school. Now, being a college-level student at Harold Washington College, education plays a big part in shaping my character through what I am learning in class and outside the courses. School is a considerable part of my life right now since it will be the building blocks of my future. I come from a low-income family of three with my younger brother and a single mother. Recently, about week six into my fall 2019 semester, I was offered an opportunity by my father to quit my job and start my internship for my psychology class. I am in a fortunate position with my education; I say I am lucky because not everyone can just quit their jobs out of the blue.

Working and going to school can be a hassle since students will not have enough time for homework or to even think about studying. I have a friend named Cam who can't go to school because he has to work and has no free time. I experienced this problem as well when I first started college during the 2017 fall semester. I would go to work right after a full school day and end up getting home late, too tired to even glimpse school work. Another friend, Erik, dropped out of college but continued working and improving his kitchen skills. With hard work and experience, he now works at a top Michelin-star restaurant named G.T. Prime Steakhouse downtown and just cooked with one of the original MasterChef judges Graham Elliot for a private event in his restaurant. With these experiences in mind, I will explore the subject and question: 'Is education important?'

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I witnessed teacher strikes going on outside a couple of blocks away from my campus. I wanted to know if we are spending and funding too much on education, schools, and colleges; and if money would be more useful in other places. According to Will Flanders, Research Director at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, giving a lot of money to schools is not the right answer. Flanders, a Ph.D. in Political Science with a specialization in American Politics and Public Policy from Florida State University, argues, 'political campaigns across the country kick-in into overdrive'(page 1) about schools and funding to only receive an image of a caring, trusting candidate “because that’s what the public wants to hear” (page1). He finds that money being poured into these schools sometimes doesn't even reach the classroom. He states, 'Throwing more money at any of the areas examined here in public schools is not likely to have a positive impact on student outcomes,” (page 1). As Flanders discusses, people do not know how much we are spending on school already. He took a poll and found that 'more than 80% percent of respondents, underestimated spending.'(page 2) Only providing people with facts and statistics to sober them up from this idea We spend too little on education right now.

Since Dr. Flanders is the Research Director at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, I can see why he does not think it is the best idea for more funding for schools. He would rather have that money go to other places and fund other vital programs. One point I didn't agree with was when he stated in his conclusion, 'No matter how much a Republican spends, it will never be enough for Democrats-- and sometimes vice versa.'(page 2) I don't believe in the logic of the statement because I feel like we can reach an agreement on anything if both parties reason with each other. The last sentence was excellent, and I agree with Dr. Flanders that goes on to state: 'The problems with our public schools in this country are far deeper than money.'(page 2) Public schools don't only need money. Future students need a good foundation and competent teachers to make students reach their full potential; money can not fund that.

The next article I came across during my research was something I found online from Earncentral. The title of the article is 'A Well Educated Workforce is Key To State Prosperity' By Noah Berger and Peter Fisher. As director of policy reform and advocacy, Berger advances Casey's efforts to inform, guide, and influence public policy at the state and federal levels. Berger graduated from Harvard College and Law School. Fisher is a Harvard University graduate and founder of Cortus Advisors. Cortus Advisors partners with organizations to identify and pursue new sources of growth in revenue, profitability, and entity value. The writer's motives and life are just about shaping and helping federal governments to make a choice.

The purpose of this article would be for big cities not to give up on education, to keep funding it, and it will be beneficial for everyone. Cities should take the other route of spending tax money on education rather than a short-sighted approach to economic developments' (page 1) like highways and a big new stadium. As talked about by Berger and Fisher, cities around America have the instruments in their power to increase productivity. Including investments in public foundations, technological innovations at public universities as well as other institutions, and in workers through education and training systems. Workforce recruiters are only concentrating on luring in other employers from other states, not working on their own land and infrastructures. They found a strong correlation between the educational attainment of the state's workforce and median wages in a country. A nation can build a solid foundation for economic success and shared prosperity by investing in education. Cutting taxes to attract private investments from other major states is a straight shot down for the state's economic flow. Not only will education help the economy, but most importantly, the children will utilize the education system. The student will be knowledgeable for the future and will most likely stay in the state after graduation, increasing the economic flow.

This article does have some points I don't agree with, for example, when Berger and Fisher stated, 'Higher levels of education correlates positively with… lower rates of crime.' (page 3) Education will not entirely solve the crime on the streets. Yes, it is a start but there are many other factors we must include when it comes to crime. Berger and Fisher don't totally have bad points but some great ones as well. An example of a good idea they discussed, 'states have the greatest role to play, however, is in making sure that all of their people- and particularly in those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.'(page 3) I agree with this statement because an individual’s education and foundation in life can really affect how well they do in life.

Berger and Fisher's arguments did have good points throughout the whole article. It made me think more about student’s needs regarding their health and receiving the proper resources to help them student reach their full potential in and outside the classroom. After reading about Dr. Flanders, I am not satisfied with his argument as a whole and didn't change my position on supporting education. However, he did have me thinking about how much we spend on education funding with the federal government. I came across stats and numbers from one of the most significant online tax programs, TurboTax. On the information link page, they provide that the government only spends about “7-8%”(qtd. TurboTax) on education from the federal budget. Not a shocker since we see how some schools around Chicago are just not well funded.

Researching some more on the topic, I wanted to know if people are becoming over-specialized. They know more than is necessary for their jobs. I came across an article on the subject called 'For a long, successful career, LinkedIn says nothing beats a liberal arts major.' Written by Dan Kopf and Amy X. Wang, reporters for Quartz, a business news organization. Quartz targets high-earning readers based in San Francisco. Kopf has been covering Quartz for three years now. He has a master's degree in Economics from LSE and a bachelor's degree in economics from NYU. Secondly, Wang has a bachelor's in English from Yale and studies the future and physical universities. She might not have a master's but does not work for Quartz anymore. She has moved on to a more commercial and respected Rollingstone magazine, as a music business reporter. The purpose of the article is that people are not going for select degrees and they are history, mathematics, and chemistry. Wanting people to reconsider a degree in liberal arts and not to follow 'trends.'(page 2) Since one author is using statistics and another is studying universities, I can see why they want to face this growing problem now.

With technology and science majors being on top for most pursued degrees, People's interest in a degree in liberal arts is vanishing. As stated in the article, 'higher education-- which, from the start, has always reflected the demands of the economy-- is racing to keep up.'(page 1) The economy can affect this growing problem because the government will struggle to keep up with the demands of jobs, which can leave many after college jobless. With the workforce overspecializing, one does not acquire many other skills. If a student goes for a computer science major, the student won't get to learn anything else but computer programs. What about other essential skills, like being a confident leader and with excellent communication? With data, we see older college students are seeing a gap with the younger students with majors like history, mathematics, and chemistry having a decline. A focus on one specific skill will not last; a degree is only half the battle to be successful in today's workforce.

This article does have some exceptional points. One that stands out for me was when Kopf and Wang said, 'It’s important to have a wide range of such talents, rather than a narrow subset applied only to a particular sector that may not look the same in the near future (or, indeed, exist at all).'(page 5) One example I thought about that I can link with this quote would be the people who used to make VCRs or Walkmen MP3 players; most likely, they don't have as many assembling them. People must be ready with today's technological advancements that affect the nature of the workforce every day. One viewpoint I can not agree with at all and find funny is the last two sentences in this article. The authors stated 'several dozen U.S. universities now charge upwards of $250,000 for a degree. With such steep bills to pay, it's worth taking a moment to reconsider the value of a trusty old, generalized liberal arts degree.'(page 5) A liberal arts degree is known for being one of the hardest majors to find a job with; they don't hire as much. I wanted to know how much a liberal arts degree would be, so I Googled it. I found it's still pretty expensive, coming around $50,000.

After reading Kopf and Wang, I wondered what the real reality of return investment for higher education was. Education is an investment in the future. People who spend money on schooling expect a better life for their children and more money for themselves. I did some more research and found a research paper called “Evaluating the Return on Investment in Higher Education.” Written and statistically produced by Kristin Blagg and Erica Blom. Blagg is a research associate at the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute. Her research concentrates on K–12 and postsecondary education. Blagg has directed studies on student transportation, school selection, student loans, and the role of information in higher education. Blagg currently carries a Bachelor's in Government from Harvard University. Blom is also a research associate at the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute, where she studies higher education policy. Blom received a bachelor's degree in mathematics and political science from Queen's University and a master's degree in economics from Western University.

The purpose of this article is to argue with data from universities all across America that higher education always has a great return on investment (ROI). They did an outstanding job of breaking down many factors on someone's return on investment and breaking it down into little parts. To illustrate the formula, 'the cost of higher education after grants; the length of time in school and the likelihood of certificate or degree completion; the earnings returns from a given level of degree, major, or institution; the student's demographic background; and local economic conditions.'(page 2) Evaluating the person's whole life. A very well-put formula that we can use to get a close accurate guess on education on whether it will be high on return or not. Students may underestimate the time it takes to earn a degree.

Furthermore, to expand on this, they stated, '20% percent of students who first enrolled at public two-year schools are still enrolled six years later.'(page 3) Saying that students usually take longer than what they have planned to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree. The article goes on to cite '20% percent left without a degree' (qtd. in Blagg and Blom) on four-year universities. Students do not ever go back to move on to higher education since it took them so long the first time they end up giving up and never finishing. The balance of college attendance must be 'fair against the substantial lifetime earnings boost a postsecondary degree can provide, particularly for low or moderate-ability students.' (page 5) If the risk of going and registering for college is low, then more students will reconsider going to college for their benefit.

This research has many excellent points that are on the side of education. One great example would be when Blagg and Blom pointed out, 'Students will learn that they are not able to commit to completing college, but others, who might have otherwise not enrolled, may realize substantial gains by learning that they can attain a degree.' (page 5) We can tie this with Kopf and Wang's article and argument about how it became a trend that everyone is going to school now, but that's not enough to make the student motivated enough to want a degree.

After reading these two articles, it made me more aware of the risks and factors of going to college. Blagg and Blom did an exceptional job breaking that down and it makes me wonder if a low-income person like myself should go to school. One article evaluating the return of higher education won't make me drop out as soon as tomorrow. Still, it did change a bit on how I see my factors against me going to school, and it's a lot. Kopf and Wang's discussions were solid ones that we can not ignore. People don't want to do hard labor anymore. I was one of them since I used to work as a backbreaking busser, and I didn't hesitate at all to quit when I had the opportunity. One reason why some college majors are declining across generations is because topics of history, mathematics, and chemistry have a terrible stigma. Being difficult and not the most favorable with most people. They surely did not make me want to change my major to liberal arts.

In conclusion, though I only touched on the tip of the question, I have much research to do on the topic of education. Dr. Flanders, Kopf, and Wang have allowed me to explore this topic from a whole new viewpoint of being against education. As we had great views from people for education like Blagg, Erica, Berger, and Fisher. I am shocked about how many people go through so many problems to pursue their higher education. One idea that will stick with me would be a discussion that Berger and Fisher were having about a strong workforce. An educated workforce will always bring better quality and products compared to an uneducated workforce. For a fact, education will come with many problems as stressed by Dr. Flanders; money won't fix this problem.

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Importance of Education in Society Essay. (2024, January 04). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
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