It’s currently my first day here at CER and I have already attended a book launch event/panel discussion that honed in on the current struggles with education and markets, and peeked into the future of a more productive system. Upon arriving at the panel at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), we were given copies of Research Fellow Michael McShane’s Education and Opportunity mini-book (emphasis on the mini), which serves as a basic introduction of the education system to a new college audience joining the education conversation. The book addresses reforms such as smaller class sizes, indirect choice, accountability, increase in staff, and universal preschool, which all put concepts into practice.
His overarching theme throughout the piece revolves around the idea that decentralizing a system that leverages society leads to a more holistic understanding of education. He breaks down education opportunity at a basic level in an attempt to reach a younger age group. He starts off with generalities: Education is important. Academic success is crucial because it leads to monetary prosperity. McShane addresses the gap between the salaries of college graduates and those of high school graduates. The Brookings Institute released a study noting that while 45% of those in the bottom tier of the income bracket without a college degree remained in poverty, those who were born into poverty but pursued college education actually have a higher probability of ending up in the wealthiest tier, as opposed to ending up in the lowest. Another one of his points revolves around the troubling statistic that only 26% of students who took the ACT scored “college ready” in all four subjects. As a student who took the ACT’s only a few years ago, the concept of an education system not properly setting students up for economic prosperity comes as no surprise.