When They Tell You We Don’t Have Money for Education…

1888511_655610567840044_1606569559_n…just remember that they’re lying.

Military budget of the US in 2011: $664.84 billion.

Appropriated for the Dept. of Education in 2011: $65.7 billion.

Ten percent of the defense budget would double our education spending.

Published by James Rovira

Dr. James Rovira is higher education professional with twenty years experience in the field in teaching, administration, and advising roles. He is also an interdisciplinary scholar and writer whose works include fiction, poetry, and scholarship exploring the intersections of literature and philosophy, literature and psychology, literary theory, and music and literature.. His books include Women in Rock, Women in Romanticism (Routledge, 2023); David Bowie and Romanticism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022); Writing for College and Beyond (a first-year composition textbook (Lulu 2019)); Reading as Democracy in Crisis: Interpretation, Theory, History (Lexington Books 2019); Rock and Romanticism: Blake, Wordsworth, and Rock from Dylan to U2 (Lexington Books, 2018); Rock and Romanticism: Post-Punk, Goth, and Metal as Dark Romanticisms (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018); and Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety (Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2010). See his website at jamesrovira.com for details.

12 thoughts on “When They Tell You We Don’t Have Money for Education…

  1. Thank you too for responding, Mgozadin.

    I totally agree that if high schools were able to do their jobs properly then colleges wouldn’t have to offer remedial courses. The challenges facing high schools aren’t going to go away any time soon, though (and the Common Core won’t help), so colleges are going to continue to have people with remedial skills coming to them. We either deny every remedial student access or we educate everyone who can be educated. I’m in favor of the second option because I believe that education is a vital public good, like postal service, the military, safe food and water, etc.

    My experience has been that most remedial students can advance quickly with good instruction if they work hard. The problem is a lack of good instruction (because these students are almost always taught by unsupported adjuncts) or an unwillingness to work (in which case they just need to fail out).

    And yes, I do believe that teachers are indispensable, Mgozadin. That’s the point that I was making about the socialization of knowledge and the attention needs of remedial and even most average incoming college students.

    I’d like to end by saying that I think edX and Coursera produce wonderful products. I have no problem with their wide distribution for non-credit or certificate purposes. The only questions have to do with assigning college credit for these courses, which are specifically:

    1. Is that product adequate for the structured and assessed learning required for college credit?

    2. Shouldn’t we take seriously the possibility that the answer to question no. 1 may be “yes” or “no” depending upon the discipline being studied and the student body? I would say the answer is probably “yes” to computer courses taught to students performing above average, but certainly “no” to writing courses taught to remedial to average students. Just Google “San Jose State University MOOC” and read about that debacle.

    3. If your answer to no. 1 is that seated, traditional courses are so bad that these courses are just as good, is that really a good answer? Shouldn’t we instead be addressing the reasons why our seated courses seem bad, like over reliance on unsupported adjunct instructors?

    What’s really sad is that every educator who has taught online courses AND remedial to average freshman writing students could easily predict the outcome of the SJSU experiment. These students need a lot of attention, to be told exactly what to do, and to be given deadlines. They also have a hard time processing written instructions. Any online environment requires all of the skills that these students tend to lack.

    Our problem is with a school system so focused on saving money and getting rid of teachers that it fails to care about actually providing the type of education that our students need. We’re selling ourselves short and wasting vital intellectual capital.

    Anyway, thanks again for chatting, M. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.


  2. James
    Please also remember edx is non profit .
    They are not after profit.
    They want to be efficient.
    They are willing to learn from billions of data
    ” how people learn ”
    Nobody in the World can do it but edx .


    1. Mgozadin —

      Let me focus my responses on two points… and thanks, by the way, for continuing to respond.

      1. The people at MIT and Harvard are used to only teaching advanced students. The majority of students in the US are remedial to average in terms of college expectations, though. So what edX produces is something good for advanced students, but not necessarily good for the majority of students in the country.

      In other words, a “good course” needs to be defined contextually — it’s a good course for what student body? — and not in any kind of absolute terms, as if any one course could be good for everyone.

      2. We can’t just use the words “online” as a catch-all phrase. An online course limited to 25 students that is supervised by an instructor who is actively engaged in the course multiple times a week is very different from a course that pretty much runs itself with no instructor oversight of student activities.

      The former kind of course is structured and assessed learning that should be offered for college credit. The latter kind of course is not.


      1. James
        Thanks you have put up with me so long.

        My last comment.
        1.- I know very well not everybody can handle the hard courses of MIT and Harvard and Stanford . Therefore I ask edx to include some less competitive schools too as members of edx.
        2.- Sorry. Remedial does not the duty of HE. That is the duty of High school. Plus you know what is the completion rate of remedial Works only 10 % .
        3.- Supervision of a bad teacher for 25 students is bad enough .
        EDX has top teachers, TAs, mentors, professors + technology to communicate with students and professors . This is just an excuse of teachers to Show that they are indispensable .

        The information I receive that edx and coursera may start degree programs within 1-2 years . That is great . Let us see.
        I love to continue our discussion after 2 years .
        It has been wonderful to talk to you James . best of best .
        I will not respond any more .
        Thanks billion .


  3. Mgozaydin — I’ve provided links to my stats from the NCES website. Can you provide links to your information on the BLS website?

    You’re missing my point: if things are bad for college grads, they’re worse for HS grads. If employers hire college grads for high school level jobs, that means they’re not hiring high school grads for those jobs. Why would they?

    That $23K per year that you’re talking about is not for those aged 18–22 (normal age for college students), but for those aged 25-34, as you would see if you went to the link I provided. So you can’t say a high school graduate is losing close to $100K in income over the four years they’re in college, if they go straight to college out of high school. Very very few high school graduates make that much right away. Most of them will be making minimum wage, which is about $15K a year, or $60K over four years.

    Fully online institutions — and I’m not talking about MOOCs this time — have the lowest graduation rates, the highest student loan default rates, and the lowest employability for their graduates, as both students and employers tend to distrust online education. You really don’t have any data supporting the effectiveness of online education (it doesn’t exist, except in the case of advanced students), but there is a lot of data indicating fraud in the online ed. sector on a massive scale.

    I will say that I do like free online classes — I think it’s wonderful that knowledge is being disseminated in this way. Even cheap ones do that job. They’re just no substitute for the structured and assessed learning provided by colleges and universities. There’s too much they can’t do.


    1. James
      We say the same things

      1.- Yes high schools are worse, why do you have remedial classes at colleges. No country has that .
      Medical society proved that if children do not learn enough at 3-4-5 then rest is futile . Preschooling in the USA is just 65 % That is the ROOT of the problem .
      Please identify the problem first then try to cure it .

      2.- I am an employer. If ı find a college graduate at the salary of high school graduate, sure I hire that college graduate

      3.- Sorry James . If a high school graduate makes min wage then we have big problem . $ 23,000 – $ 15,000 = $ 8,000 difference . In 6 years $ 48,000.
      Then in 6 years 6 x $ 30,000 + 6x $ 15,000 = $ 270,000 instead of my saying
      $ 318,000 . Sorry I am off 15 % . That is what I told you . Im may be +- 15 % off .

      4.- I say bad onlines ruined this online concept for 20 years .
      Yes they have the low graduation rates, for profits attracts students with federal loans , sure they are not employed well . I do distrust the education given by these bad schools onlines .Still 7.5 million 30 % of the total student in HE .

      Please read DOE reports regarding online . Even bad onlines supported by DOE , DOE is saying online is better at least same as f2f in its last year report . Also there are 350 research saying online is as good as f2f . ( I do not trust them at all ) .

      In fact it is a big mistake to say , even from educated people like you ,
      online is better than f2f or
      f2f is better than online .

      There are good onlines , there are bad onlines .
      There are good f2f and bad f2f .
      f2f at Harvard is good but in a for profit nowhere is bad .

      Finally God gave us opportunity of good onlines by edx .
      It is a great passion of MIT Harvard afford of ONLINE .
      But now they are willing to share it with the World . MIT started that in 2001 with OCW .
      I say also it should not be free but at cost plus small safety income .( Not profit )

      5.- You are more than right there are lots of fraud in online by for profit companies . Fortunately they are under investigation now . As you know one company made $ 1 billion profit per year . Still today fee of an online course is $ 1,500-2,000
      It means they rub the people , make billions profits .

      6.- I do not like ” free onlines ”
      Nothing is free forever .
      At this time only edx can provide the right college education online with credits and degrees at some small fees such as $ 100-200 per course. That is salvation of the HE in the USA + the World .
      Beware 2,500 colleges will be closed within 6 years if edx starts providing degrees now . But I expect they will within 1-2 years .

      James please tell me
      Do you go to a not so good even state college while there are courses and degrees online from MIT and Harvard at $ 100-200 per course . That means $ 2,000 per year or $ 8,000 per BA . Please think of the quality .( I tell you the cost is less than $ 1 if you have enough enrollment for sure they will ) Beware not everybody can handle the hard courses of MIT and Harvard, therefore I suggested to edx to get some less competitive universities as members too .

      I must remind you
      ” Full time students paying $ 50,000 per year to Stanford and MIT do not take 8.00 am classes f2f, they do not want to wake up early in the morning , but they get from edx , and they get 10 % better grade too . 200 f2f class size . And 150 do so . ”

      Even I asked MIT students ” do you mind if those students get an BA of MITx paying only $ 2,000 per year. ” They said no . Sure I did not ask 10,000 students of MIT .

      TRUST James edx can do it .
      Let us support it .
      We need authorities like you


  4. James
    Your statistics are for 41,600,000 BA holders average.

    I am talking about 60 % of those WHO cannot hold a job with college graduate salary .

    It is your duty and my duty to warn parents and students .
    We need skilled people not just degree holders without any skill .


  5. Dear James
    my $ 23,000 is lost salary while a student goes to college. That is the salary a high school graduates would make .

    Sorry you could not catch my point .
    I say 60 % of the college graduates hold high school jobs.
    Sure rest 40 % makes good salary as a college graduate as you say .

    I say ” college pays off ” is WRONG
    yes ” good colleges pay off ” That is only 40 % of the graduates .
    So I appeal to parents and all 18-19 years olds
    ” do not send your children to any colleges but a good college ”
    ” College pays off ” is a marketing gimmick . Sorry James I do not mean you .


  6. Here are your numbers, M:

    That $23,000/yr figure is true for people who are 25-34 in 2011, not for students who are 18-22, the traditional age for college students:


    The median income for those aged 25-34 who have a college degree is about $45,000/yr according to the same data, so they make about twice as much by that time than a person without a high school education, and $15K a year more than those with only a high school education. If income levels stayed the same for ten years, that’s $150,000, more than the cost of a typical college education and far more than the average $30K in debt that students graduate with.

    And if you have a master’s degree, your median income is about $60K a year.

    College pays off.

    Here’s more real data:

    Click to access TheLaborMarketConsequencesofanInadequateEd.pdf


  7. Rovira
    Your interpretation is wrong.
    Today people spend $30,000 per year college cost + $ 23,000 lost salary = $ 53,000 per year. For 6 years $ 6 x $ 53,000 = $ 318,000
    What for to work in a job which can be done by a high school graduate .
    Then what is the reason to waste that Money . Today 25 million BA holders like this .
    25,000,000 x $ 318,000 = $ 8 TRILLION wasted .
    HE does not need more Money . HE needs wisdom .
    Convince EDX to provide degrees . Let everyone go to college for $ 100-200 per course . Even if he cannot do that college work, wasted Money is nill .


    1. Mgozaydin —

      Thanks for responding. Your numbers are completely fabricated, of course. It’s very unlikely that anyone straight out of high school is going to make $23K a year, for one thing, and all recent data indicates that people with a college education make substantially more over the course of their lives than people without one — and that’s especially the case with those who go on to get a Masters degree.

      My numbers were for the Dept. of Ed. specifically, and yes, they’re accurate, but yes, that’s not all education spending. If we take into account everything, the total for 2011 is closer to $138 billion, which is still only about 20% of the size of the defense budget.

      Student loans don’t factor in so far as -federal budget dollars- go because it’s not spending: the federal government actually makes money on student loans.

      I totally agree that colleges and universities need to spend more wisely, but to me that means actually spending on educating students rather than spending on sports or administration.

      edX isn’t the solution and never will be, at least not as a replacement for college. All you want to do is eliminate teachers so that a much higher percentage of college spending is pure profit for the owners. If you’d ever taught a single class in math or English at any community college in the country — and especially if you taught a single semester or year full time there — you’d know those online courses are useless for educating the average student right out of high school, and detrimental to educating the mass of remedial students high schools are producing. Again, all the recent data on MOOCs support this claim.

      MOOCs are great for non-credit learning, but they can only be trusted as part of structured and assessed learning for a limited number of disciplines and for a limited kind of student, usually advanced ones. Otherwise, 75% or more people will pay $100-$200 to not finish the MOOC, which is perfectly fine with the MOOC provider, because they already have their money. At least a college student can drop without penalty within a certain window.

      More importantly, machines can’t teach human beings to interact with human beings — they can only teach them to interact with machines. Knowledge is a social product and students need to be socialized into the knowledge discipline as well, which can only happen with a human instructor.


      1. Thanks billion James.
        I love to discuss with smart people . They are worthwhile to answer.
        1.- My numbersw are not fabricated , taken from labor Statistics 1992-2008 .
        Yes $30,000 my average
        $ 23,000 my average for income of a high school graduate.
        Probably yours is not far from them . +- 15 % may be. That does not effect the discussion .
        2.- Some statistics on these pages showed average salary of BA holders are dropping 1.2 % per year for the last 10 years .
        3.- Total spent in HE is $ 400 billion to some sources, $ 500 billion to another source.
        4.- If you say edx is not solution to HE, then 7.5 million online students from 1,300 colleges , some 100 % online programs , even with degrees for the last 20 years is great disaster to USA economy . These onklines even from non conmpetitive schools too . EDX is from top schools with top technology and accumulated knowledge of 100-350 years
        5.- You cannot stop technology. But I wish top schools use technology to provide top education .
        6.- I am all out against MOOCs . Money traps as yopu say . EDX is non profit . Please do not forget that .
        7.- Knowledge is the most important aspect of the education . Therefore we need top school to serve all people of the USA + World . Technology is just a tool to be used wisely
        8.- Good teachers will develop now good online courses from , I say 200 research universities as said by Dr. BOK ex President of Harvard , for the USA and the World .

        9.- What edx has done is SHARE THEIR KNIOWLEDGE OF 100-350 YEARS WİTH THE WORLD .
        That is a revolution .
        That is sustainable since edx will make lots of Money too . But they will not distribute it to their shareholders but reinvest in weducation .
        Please note that after 6 years there will not be any online . There will be personolised learning and more .


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