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Op-Ed: The Presidential Election is Over, Now What? Fixing Education.

By Erin P. Capuano     Feb 11, 2013 in Politics
The election is over, now what, the future of education, financial aid and student debt in President Obama's next term. How will we as a nation begin to fix the education system.
As many Americans braved long lines and cold weather to cast their vote in 2012 it became apparent at about 8:30p.m on November 15th where this Presidential race was headed. The election was called for President Barack Obama sealing his reelection bid and four more years for him to create change, now that the race is over what’s next?
For many of us involved in the business of higher education we see a real opportunity to use the next four years to fix what many see as a broken outdated system. The main focus of the campaign has been to call the President out on the slow healing unemployment numbers and how to create jobs for the American people, many on the Left have tied the two to one another. The idea that you can create jobs by educating people is an idea that’s about as old as democracy itself. It’s blatantly obvious that the United States has not been living up to its history as a front runner in science, mathematics and technology and we have all but abandoned our NASA space programs. What would happen if we made education available for everyone with special tuition rates for students who want to go into a career in science and technology? What would happen if we accepted the inevitability of climate change and began training students in green jobs like solar and wind energy? Education is the vehicle for job creation it’s a long term strategy but one to make us competitive in the global market. As it stands now students are lucky to graduate with $100,000 in student loan debt and interest. Locking in the student loan interest rate at 10% has given students a better opportunity to pay off their loans in a more timely fashion while not being taken advantage of by the big banks. Basing a student’s payments on their salary is also another great way to ensure no person is in over their head when they graduate college.
Pell Grants have been widely talked about by President Obama as a way to get children the higher education they need. Pell Grants are one of the largest sources of grants and are distributed by the federal government they are designed to help students financially so that they can achieve the dream of higher education. Part of the President’s plan is to double funding for Pell Grants in the next four years and establish a college tax credit, by doubling funding more students can benefit from the Pell Grant program and give more children in the middle to lower income class bracket the vision of a future that involves going to college. I hear stories everyday from my customers about their struggles to afford both college and books while some are trying to maintain a full time job or raise families. Looking for ways to incorporate additional funding for students is something that we discuss at length, how can we as a company make life a little easier on our customers and their wallets?
Community Colleges are the diamonds in the rough that is where you are going to grab onto a student and plant that seed of greatness. Community college gave me the opportunity of higher education it started me off on a pathway to higher education and was something I am truly grateful for. Considerably less in tuition Community Colleges offer students an opportunity to get their feet wet in higher education it allows them to establish a direction of where they want to go with their degree and what field tickles their fancy. Students can obtain an Associates Degree by attending a two year community college giving them that higher ed degree and a great advantage when they begin looking for a full time job. Investing more money in community colleges will allow more students the opportunity to attend these schools in their areas and give more jobs to teachers and professors who would otherwise be fighting for what little teaching jobs might be out there.
Military Personnel and Veterans make up a large part of our country and many go into the army at such a young age that by the time they come out they are in their late 20’s and find themselves with no training other than the military. The G.I. Bill is such an important part of our culture, as a country that rewards our heroes we need to ensure that each and every veteran has access to the G.I. Bill so that they can achieve the dream of higher education. Our troops should not have to come home to the prospect of unemployment and living in poverty. Veterans should be granted access to learn trades or become teachers so they can continue to give back to their communities. The G.I. Bill is officially titled Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 it’s a bill that provided college or vocational education for returning World War II veterans as well as one year of unemployment compensation. This bill not only assists in fostering higher education but it also shows our veterans that we appreciate their service to our country and that it does not go unnoticed. They should be rewarded for their selfless act of volunteering to give up years of their lives to fight in combat.
Textbooks, textbooks are the reason I’m here writing to you it’s the reason I have a job and why I am so amped up about higher ed. Our bread and butter are textbooks we supply students all over the country a more affordable alternative to their campus bookstore. The main reason we do what we do is because our founder as a professor saw the money his students would pay for books in their classes and wanted to find a way to help. As previous college students ourselves we see the need for change when it comes to publishing and textbook prices and we understand what it means to be college broke. One of our focuses has been on giving students a Marketplace, an area where they can buy and sell books at competitive prices in some cases getting 60% more for their used books than they would in their campus bookstore. We find that the partnership between student and seller can be one that benefits both parties. Ebooks has been another baby project that we feel very strongly about, fostering the relationship between authors and professors. Ebooks are truly the future of education and if we can invest in technologies that make them affordable and at some point free this would lighten the burden that students have to bare when it comes to student loan debt.
The 2012 election had much to speculate about what we think the next four years hold for our country and for our education system. One thing is for sure, we must step up if we ever want to see this wonderful institution we call higher education fixed. Together we can come up with solutions that work best for everyone so that we can once again be competitive globally in science and technologies. This is the best chance we have had in years to really take the reins and turn around our schools in this country, it’s our time to use the education we have been given, to use the skills we have learned to bring out innovation to move our country forward.
You can view President Obama's plans on education here and here
For more information on Pell Grants and the G.I. Bill
Financial Aid options are available.
Get cheap textbooks here
Top 120 Community Colleges in 2013 here
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Election, Obama, President barack obama, Textbooks, digital textbooks
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