One of their favorite arguments: “Why, we can’t trust the free market to educate our children — the very idea! The free market excels at many things, they say, but it does not guarantee education “equity” for our kids.
What is this “equity” public-school apologists talk about? It means a guarantee that all children get a “quality” education and “equal opportunity” to learn. “In the cruel free-market,” the public-school bureaucrat says, “the rich get the best schools, the middle class the mediocre, and poor kids get left in the dust.” That, they say, is not fair, not “equity.”
But why not apply their “equity” theory to food, clothing, and housing? Shouldn’t all homes, food stores, and clothing factories also be owned and operated by government to ensure “equity?” After all, the rich eat better, have warmer clothes, and live in finer homes than the poor or middle-class. That’s not fair, right?
No, it is fair.
In a free-market, those people who make more money than others usually earn it. They risk more, work harder, work smarter, persevere more, make better life decisions, or choose a profession that has greater opportunity to gain wealth. Why shouldn’t they enjoy the just fruits of their labor, of their character, of their life-decisions?
Also, what financially successful people earn is not taken from those who earn less. Is it the successful person’s fault the less successful do not work as hard, persevere as long, or make better decisions? If you seek blame for differences in people’s income, don’t place it on those who succeed. Blame it on life, on human nature.
Nature makes all men and women different — different talents, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. It has always been this way since human beings came out of the trees and started walking upright. To stamp your foot at disparities of income is to stamp your foot at human nature, which is to stamp your foot at reality.
If “equity” for all people is our goal, then for every “inequality” between poor, middle-class, and rich people, whether in food, shelter, health care, or education, government must loot financially more successful people with taxes to remedy what they did not cause, and which is not their fault. This notion of “equity,” extended to all aspects of our life, will turn America into a socialist or Communist economic police state. In such a police state, the successful are punished and “leveled” by progressive income taxes, so that all of us end up miserably equal and equally miserable.
But this is an old story, the story called envy. The unhappy who hate the happy, the unsuccessful who hate the successful, all seeking to salvage their self-esteem by bringing down the ones they envy. The communist Soviets tried it for eighty years. The result — a shambles of poverty, slavery, and failure.
“But,” the equity lovers say, “why punish the children? Is it their fault their parents are poor?” No, it is not, but neither is it the fault of those who are not poor.
Even presuming we wanted this “equity” for our kids, have our government schools actually given children equal opportunity and “quality” education during their 150 years of control? Jeanne Chall, in her book, “The Academic Achievement Challenge,” sites grim statistics that 70 percent of inner-city 4th-graders read below grade level, that an exploding prison population is made up mostly of men whose reading and math skills are at or below the eighth-grade level. These are just the tip of the iceberg of statistics that prove the utter failure of government schools.
Public-school employees can have the best intentions in the world. So what? What matters is results. For all practical purposes, public schools therefore create only inequity for our children by giving them a third-rate education, especially inner-city kids. Our government-controlled public schools condemn millions of children to a lifetime of failure, while school officials mouth pious goals about creating education “opportunity” for all kids. Could our children be any worse off if public schools were scrapped, and low-cost, competent, free-market schools or tutors taught our kids?
In order to guarantee “equal education” for all children, you have to create a massive, public-school system to enforce this guarantee. Once a government monopoly takes control of your children’s education, quality education for your kids goes out the door. Demand education “equity” and we condemn millions of children to a miserable future.
In contrast, if we allow children’s natural love of learning to flourish and an education free-market to blossom, even poor kids, as generations of American immigrants have proven, become middle-class or even rich. Scrap the public schools and let school choice and open competition prevail, and most poor kids will finally get a quality education and rise to their highest potential.
Joel Turtel is an education policy analyst and syndicated columnist. He is also the author of “Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie To Parents and Betray Our Children” and “The Welfare State: No Mercy For the Middle Class.”
Equity is the value of your home at current market value after deducting the outstanding mortgage on your home, which is what you would have left over in the event that you sold your property at market value and repaid your outstanding mortgage. Home equity is built over time; as equity builds, you create a pool of money which your can utilize it later for many purposes.
In general, it is unadvisable to spend your equity money on things that do not give you ROI (return on investment) such as frivolous vacations. Use your home equity to clear your bad debts is actually a type of spending on your equity money. You could avoid yourself from trapping into debts by carefully plan your budget and spend with what you earn.
A smarter way of using your equity is use it to grow your equity further, spend on things that will bring you ROI. Ways to use your equity smartly include:
Start Your Own Business
You can use your home equity to borrow a low interest loan to generate the capital necessary to start your own business. Just be sure that you have a sound business plan in mind and that you have other safety cushions in place.
During the initial stage of your own business, you could maintain your reliable first income stream (to protect you against any cash problems) while working to bring your own business up to the stage.
A better home condition will increase your home’s resale value. Hence you can dip into your equity to generate funds for home improvement. Your home improvement project will improve your home condition and provide you with a more comfortable living, and you could get a higher resale price whenever you want to sell it. But remember that not all home improvement projects will contribute equally to your homes resale value.
Growing equity is a great way to generate fund for your children education needs. You can get loan against your home equity for your children educational needs. Using your equity to invest on your children education will get them a brighter future and at a better position to compete in the challenging job market.
Improve Your FICO Score
Debt is unavoidable for many people as long as we have credit cards, mortgage or car, but you could prevent yourself from trapping into bad debts condition by carefully planning your budget and spending with your financial affordability. Instead, your equity can help you to improve your FICO score. By paying off creditors, you can improve your FICO score and potentially qualify for a lower refinancing rate. To make the most out of this process, know your interest rates, for both savings and debts. You can get help from expert such as an accountant to help you with the calculations. With so many rate variables in play, its easy to get confused about how to consolidate, how to pick the right term for your home equity loan, and how much to allocate to savings and how much to allocate to payments.
Home equity is the money you have put down against the principal of your house as a savings account, be aware that if you fail to budget effectively and over draw your equity. You could lose your house, wind up in credit trouble, or even have to file for bankruptcy. Hence, use your equity smartly is a great way to pursue your wealth building.
From a traditional standpoint, we have borrowed to get practically everything you could imagine, only to pay back with interest among other things! This has quickly become a way of life worldwide and has not shown any signs of changing anytime soon.
However, what about the concept of utilizing a home equity loan for college education purposes? Well, there are some investments you point this money towards that is better than others, but is this one of them? It really depends on your ability to repay without getting too damaged financially in the meantime.
From a dollar for dollar standpoint, home improvements and debt consolidation is a seemingly better investment but lets examine what a college education can also do as compared. A four year degree can net many individuals an average of $30-60,000 annually without much difficulty and additional education can yield much more without a doubt.
Compare this to the decent return you can get on home improvement projects such as landscaping or kitchen remodeling and the education can supersede it just after a couple of years. However, most people who pay for education with an equity loan are not the home owner but the parents of a child who has lived in that home.
That said, when buying someone else’s education as opposed to your own with a home equity loan, you can see that there is virtually no return on your investment from a financial standpoint! Therefore, this gift (albeit extremely important) will further encumber the borrower; but can still be very affordable for the right family, provided it doesn’t hurt their liquidity or savings.
When you fully consider the upside as opposed to the downside for yours or someone else’s college education is when you are in prime position to ‘pull the trigger’ or pass. Make certain you evaluate your scenario and cash limitations prior to signing any agreements, but in the meantime, allow yourself to receive free offers from lenders online so you can ‘crunch the numbers’ for yourself!
Institutions of education, and the system of which they are a part, face a host of unprecedented challenges from forces in society that affect and are influenced by these very institutions and their communities of learners and educators. Among these forces are sweeping demographic changes, shrinking provincial budgets, revolutionary advances in information and telecommunication technologies, globalization, competition from new educational providers, market pressures to shape educational and scholarly practices toward profit-driven ends, and increasing demands and pressures for fundamental changes in public policy and public accountability relative to the role of higher education in addressing pressing issues of communities and the society at large. Anyone of these challenges would be significant on their own, but collectively they increase the complexity and difficulty for education to sustain or advance the fundamental work of serving the public good.
Through a forum on education, we can agree to: Strengthening the relationship between higher education and society will require a broad-based effort that encompasses all of education, not just individual institutions, departments and associations.
Piecemeal solutions can only go so far; strategies for change must be informed by a shared vision and a set of common objectives. A “movement” approach for change holds greater promise for transforming academic culture than the prevailing “organizational” approach.
Mobilizing change will require strategic alliances, networks, and partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders within and beyond education.
The Common Agenda is specifically designed to support a “movement” approach to change by encouraging the emergence of strategic alliances among individuals and organizations who care about the role of higher education in advancing the ideals of a diverse democratic system through education practices, relationships and service to society.
A Common Agenda
The Common Agenda is intended to be a “living” document and an open process that guides collective action and learning among committed partners within and outside of higher education. As a living document, the Common Agenda is a collection of focused activity aimed at advancing civic, social, and cultural roles in society. This collaboratively created, implemented, and focused Common Agenda respects the diversity of activity and programmatic foci of individuals, institutions, and networks, as well as recognizes the common interests of the whole. As an open process, the Common Agenda is a structure for connecting work and relationships around common interests focusing on the academic role in serving society. Various modes of aliening and amplifying the common work within and beyond education will be provided within the Common Agenda process.
This approach is understandably ambitious and unique in its purpose and application. Ultimately, the Common Agenda challenges the system of higher education, and those who view education as vital to addressing society’s pressing issues, to act deliberately, collectively, and clearly on an evolving and significant set of commitments to society. Currently, four broad issue areas are shaping the focus of the Common Agenda: 1) Building public understanding and support for our civic mission and actions; 2) Cultivating networks and partnerships; 3) Infusing and reinforcing the value of civic responsibility into the culture of higher education institutions; and 4) Embedding civic engagement and social responsibility in the structure of the education system
VISION We have a vision of higher education that nurtures individual prosperity, institutional responsiveness and inclusivity, and societal health by promoting and practicing learning, scholarship, and engagement that respects public needs. Our universities are proactive and responsive to pressing social, ethical, and economic problems facing our communities and greater society. Our students are people of integrity who embrace diversity and are socially responsible and civilly engaged throughout their lives.
MISSION The purpose of the Common Agenda is to provide a framework for organizing, guiding and communicating the values and practices of education relative to its civic, social and economic commitments to a diverse democratic system.
I believe social justice, ethics, educational equity, and societal change for positive effects are fundamental to the work of higher education. We consider the relationship between communities and education institutions to be based on the values of equally, respect and reciprocity, and the work in education to be interdependent with the other institutions and individuals in society.
We will seek and rely on extensive partnerships with all types of institutions and devoted individuals inside and outside of higher education.
We realize the interconnection of politics, power and privilege. The Common Agenda is not for higher education to self-serve, but to “walk the talk” relative to espoused public goals. We understand the Common Agenda as a dynamic living document, and expect the activities it encompasses to change over time.
THE COMMON AGENDA FRAMEWORK The general framework for the common agenda is represented in the following diagram. It is clear that while goals and action items are organized and aliened within certain issues areas, there is considerable overlap and complimentarity among the issues, goals and action items. Also, following each action item are names of individuals who committed to serve as “point persons” for that particular item. A list of “point persons,” with their organizational affiliation(s) is included with the common agenda.
ISSUE 1: MISSION AND ACTIONS
Public understanding more and more equates higher education benefits with acquiring a “good job” and receiving “higher salaries.” To understand and support the full benefits of higher education the public and higher education leaders need to engage in critical and honest discussions about the role of higher education in society. Goal: Develop a common language that resonates both inside and outside the institution. Action Items: Develop a common language and themes about our academic role and responsibility to the public good, through discussions with a broader public.
Collect scholarship on public good, examine themes and identify remaining questions. Develop a national awareness of the importance of higher education for the public good through the development of marketing efforts.
Goal: Promote effective and broader discourse. Action Items: Raise public awareness about the institutional diversity within and between higher education institutions.
Identify strategies for engaging alumni associations for articulating public good and building bridges between higher education and the various private and public sector companies. Develop guidelines of discourse to improve the quality of dialogue on every level of society. Organize a series of civil dialogues with various public sectors about higher education and the public good.
ISSUE 2: DEVELOPING NETWORKS AND PARTNERSHIPS
Approaching complex issues such as the role of higher education in society that requires a broad mix of partners to create strategies and actions that encompass multiple valued perspectives and experiences.
Broad partnerships to strengthen the relationship between higher education and society involves working strategically with those within and outside of higher education to achieve mutual goals on behalf of the public good.
Goal: Create broad and dispersed communication systems and processes.
Create an information and resource network across higher education associations Create information processes that announce relevant conferences, recruit presenters and encourage presentations in appropriate national conferences Develop opportunities for information sharing and learning within and between various types of postsecondary institutions (e.g. research-centered communities).
Goal: Create and support strategic alliances and diverse collaborations.
Action Items: Establish and support on-going partnerships and collaborations between higher education associations and the external community (e.g. civic organizations, legislators, community members) Explore with the public how to employ the role of arts in advancing higher education for the public good Promote collaboration between higher education and to address access, retention, and graduation concerns
ISSUE 3: INSTILLING AND REINFORCING THE VALUE OF CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY INTO THE CULTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
Education should attend to the implicit and explicit consequences of its work, and reexamine “what counts” to integrate research, teaching and service for the public good to the core working of the institution.
Goal: Emphasize civic skills and leadership development in the curriculum and co-curriculum.
Action Items: Develop and implement a curriculum in colleges and universities that promote civic engagement of students Create co-curricular student and community programs for leadership and civic engagement development Develop learning opportunities, inside and outside of the classroom, that promote liberty, democratic responsibility, social justice and knowledge of the economic system Develop student leadership and service opportunities that focus on ethical behavior Teach graduate students organizing and networking skills, and encourage student leadership and Diversity education
Goal: Foster a deeper commitment to the public good.
Action Items: Work with faculty on communication skills and languages to describe their engagement with the public, and educate faculty for the common good Identify models for promotion and tenure standards Identify models for faculty development
Goal: Identify, recognize, and support engaged scholarship.
Action Items: Identify and disseminate models and exemplars of scholarship on the public good Encourage the participation in community research Help institutions call attention to exemplary outreach. Establish a capacity building effort for institutions
Goal: Bring graduate education into alignment with the civic mission.
Action Items: Work with disciplinary associations to hold dialogues on ways graduate student training can incorporate public engagement, involvement and service Promote “civic engagement” within academic and professional disciplines according to the disciplines’ definition of “civic engagement” Incorporate the concept of higher education for the public good into current graduate education reform efforts
ISSUE 4: EMBEDDING CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN THE STRUCTURE OF THE HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM
Promoting the public benefits of higher education requires system efforts beyond institutions to intentionally embed values of civic engagement and social responsibility in governance practices, policy decisions, and educational processes.
Goal: Align governing structures and administrative strategies.
Action Items: Develop ways to improve student and the community involvement in the governance and decision making process of educational institutions. Identify and promote ways for institutions to improve involvement with the public and the practice of democracy within their own institution. Establish public good/civic engagement units that orchestrate this work throughout institutions.
Goal: Publicly recognize and support valuable engagement work.
Action Items: Offer public awards that reward institutions with demonstrable track record in serving the public good in order to encourage institutionalization of performance around the public good and civic engagement.
Develop a comprehensive inventory of funding sources, association activities, initiatives, and exemplary practices that advance the public good. Identify, recognize, and support early career scholars who choose to do research on higher education and its public role in society.
Goal: Ensure that assessment and accreditation processes include civic engagement and social responsibility.
Action Items: Identify service for the public good as a key component in provincial and federal educational plans (e.g. Master Plans, provincial budgets, and professional associations).
Bring higher education associations and legislators together to broaden current definition of student outcomes and achievement, and develop a plan for assessment.
Develop strategies and processes to refocus system-wide planning, accreditation and evaluation agendas to consider criteria assessing the social, public benefits of education.
Goal: Cultivate stronger ties between the university, federal and provincial government.
Action Items: Develop a 2-year implementation plan that joins the university rector / Pro-rector and Director with provincial legislators to engage in an assessment of the needs of the public by province Host a series of dialogues between trustees and provincial legislators to discuss the role of universities and public policy in advancing public good at a local, provincial, and national level.