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Americans need more help to move up

John Morton

TEXT OF COMMENTARY

INTRODUCTION: Over generations, a strong American economy has lifted the boats of virtually everyone. But the American Dream has always been about more than a rising tide. It's grounded in the idea of a meritocracy where people have the ability to chart their own course -- ahead of the fleet.

But what if that's really not the case?

Commentator John Morton explains how so many Americans, particularly those in the lesser parts of the harbor, remain stuck.


JOHN MORTON: Most Americans believe that with discipline and perseverance they can still get ahead. And by one measure, the American Dream is alive and well. Recent data on economic mobility show that two-thirds of Americans have higher incomes compared to their parents. But for others, the Dream remains out of reach.

Surprisingly, America is a less economically mobile society than many European countries. Some 42 percent of children born on the bottom rung
are still there a generation later. Almost half of middle-income African-American children fall to the bottom of the income ladder as
adults.

Data show that while a child born poor who gets a college education
quadruples her chance of making it to the top income levels, she still
has less chance of making it than a child born rich who doesn't go to
college.

How do we get the dream back on course? A few smart policy choices could make a big difference.

Family may have an impact, but education is still far and away the best
bang for the mobility buck.

First, Congress should dramatically simplify the bewildering federal student aid system and streamline the application process. In response to a yawning 26 percentage point chasm between college enrollment and completion rates, Congress should condition federal aid based on which states move students not just into the freshman classroom, but through to graduation day. And lawmakers should extend middle-class tax benefits to lower-income families by making tax credits for tuition and education expenses refundable.

Investments in education may be the best place to start but studies show
that reducing the cost of health care, providing incentives to savings
and wealth creation, and strengthening job training programs are also
important components to improving upward mobility.

Given the receding economic tide and rising constraints on the federal
budget, Washington needs to be far more strategic about how it invests
in people and shores up the storied American meritocracy.

Americans aren't asking for handouts. They want equality of opportunity and access to the skills and tools to chart their own course toward a better future.


John Morton is managing director at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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What do you do when your own village damages your home then turns the matter over to their Insurance Co. that you help pay for, only to have to hire a lawyer to go to court with and get "litigated" into the poor house and have to withdraw your complaints and watch your home of 37 years sink and fall apart.
9 hrs of video and pictures apon request

I wish it were so simple ... I find the real problem is that skill, knowledge, dedication to a subject area and inspiration will NOT GET YOU THE JOB.
I find repeatedly that the most important factor is fulfilling the hiring decision-makers preconceptions. You have to seem like fun or whatever feeling they are looking for. Now NOT knowing how to do the job may get you FIRED, but that's AFTER the hiring decision.

So to recap, when we air stories and tell our children that they just need to work on their cognitive skills and don't worry about their EQ (Emotional or Social Intelligence) is DEAD WRONG and will waste decades of their lives and will leave them ineffective at connecting their inspirations and solutions to group activities that can really make those solutions happen.

That's why the wise old codgers and the knowledgeable old lady with the gravely voice will tell you the most important thing you get out of college is "networking". That is, if your personality is such that others like you enough to give you a chance at a job.

But it will be your ability to "Fit", and not at doing the job that will get you the CHANCE to find out.

I have *repeatedly* seen dedicated, knowledgeable people turned down and younger, cuter and less qualified people get jobs ... because they had better emotional or social intelligence than the more trained or experienced person.

"the degrees to which a university's graduates improve our nation's infant mortalty rate"

AHAHHAHAHAHHAHAH
OMG! This is priceless. You should do stand-up.

I have to admit this story actually made me angry. My good friend who is making close to minimum wage ( just over in fact ) is going to college. He is doing it without Government Funding, he refused help from me. He is doing great, working hard and learning because he is hungry for knowledge and willing to make it in this world. If my friend who comes from a poor immigrant Latino household can better himself this way without the help of anyone else why oh why would you say it is up to the government to provide more funding. The reason people are not is school is because they do not care to be. No matter the funding, no matter the 'chance' you give them it is thirst, the hunger, and the determination to see something through that matters. Plus think on this, if everyone has a degree then what value is a degree. In the end you then raise the bar and look for people with Master degrees. There will always be a way some people in a society are shuffled to the bottom no matter if it is Communist or Free Market. Please do not blame funding for peoples lack of sacrifice and self motivation.

You have no clue. The United States already has the most accessible educational system in the world. If you consider just the number of universities where 'admissions officers' have been replaced by 'enrollment service managers', then you will know that relatively few barriers actually remain. If you consider just the number of universities where remedial and special education programs are expanding faster than those designed for prepared or gifted students, then you will know that our best and brightest are already subsidizing the others in their classrooms. If you consider just the number of universities where growth rates among the student or administrative populations have exceeded the growth rate of teaching experts (i.e., faculty members) on campus, then you will know the declining capacities of our educational system to either: a) handle heavier loads, or b) teach with greater rigor. So if, as you suggest, federal funding should be tied to graduation rates under these deteriorating conditions, then the only thing that you will ensure is that all 'students' - regardless of ability, aptitude, or demonstration - will be credentialed. Not educated, but credentialed. What good is that? The incentive structure you propose is simply built the wrong way. Graduation rates must not be the standard by which universities are judged. The standard should be much higher - the degrees to which a university's graduates improve our nation's infant mortalty rate; literacy rate; obesity rate; poverty rate, sustainabilty rate, etc. Our economy has shown that it prefers to reward those persons that can sell badly mortgaged properties to dupes more than those persons that create or manufacture goods for export. Fix that kind of 'education', and we'll have something to talk about.

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