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Kohl Blog: The Importance of Education

Two cabinet secretaries were in Wisconsin Wednesday to highlight importance of agriculture education and college affordability.

Today Wisconsin is host to two cabinet secretaries who will highlight the importance of agriculture education and college affordability. It's fitting that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack chose to bring their discussion to our state, which has a proud history of agriculture excellence and some of the best colleges and universities in the country.

In Wisconsin, agriculture education is essential as we train the next generation of rural leaders. I am proud of Wisconsin's strong tradition of agriculture education – in and outside of the classroom. That's one of the reasons I recently asked Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis to reconsider proposed rules limiting youth participation in agriculture activities. We must ensure our kids can continue to work on their family farms, participate in FFA and 4H activities, and gain age-appropriate work experience and safety training. Our agriculture educators are some of our most innovative teachers, as they help students connect what they learn in the classroom with high-demand careers throughout the state.

I have long advocated for increased access to higher education for all students, and am increasingly concerned with the rising price of tuition. I support Pell Grants, TRIO services for disadvantaged students, and federal student loans, but due to increased costs and decreased financial support for higher education, the cost of a college degree has exploded in recent years. I will continue to work with our higher education community to maintain the high quality of Wisconsin’s colleges and universities, while increasing access so all students have the opportunity to pursue their educational goals.

Students who rely upon student loans to finance their education are counting on Congress to prevent the scheduled increase in student loan interest rates – from 3.4% to 6.8% – on July 1. This is not the time to increase the debt burden for our students and recent grads, when many young people are struggling to land their first job. I am committed to preventing this increase, and to doing whatever possible to maintain college access. Last year I introduced the Fast Track to College Act which would make college more affordable by providing an opportunity for students to earn high school and college credits simultaneously, free of charge.

I will continue to make education funding a priority in the coming months and am encouraged that Education Secretary Duncan and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are visiting our state today to raise awareness of these issues and to listen to the needs of teachers in Wisconsin.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) April 21, 2012 at 12:17 PM
I believe his parents started the store.
AudiFan April 21, 2012 at 10:15 PM
I went to college, but what I had learned in college was not enough to make me successful. I figured out that everything I needed to make it in life could be learned on the go - if I had the desire to do so. It took years of struggles, working third shift in a loser job to wise me up. I left the dead end job and started my own business, and life got much better. My take: had I gone into this business right after high school, I would have easily made a million before I turned 50, or at least become independently wealthy a lot quicker. A college degree is overrated, instead of looking at where students got their degree; we need to start looking at their real-world experience and the skills they’ve developed.
235301 April 22, 2012 at 12:01 AM
This topic is a huge one with many answers, not one or two. Some things to think about: 1) The US spends more per capita on it's students than anyone else. Despite that massive spending the US ranks number 10 - 20 on most math and science competencies. 2) The efficiency of just about every other industry in this country has gone up dramatically while education becomes less and less efficient with each passing year? Why is that? Perhaps there is hope with online delivery such as dreambox and Kahn Academy. 3) There is a glut of teachers in this country for most disciplines. In industries that are not dominated by union pressure this should mean a downward pressure on wages. 4) Ultimately, the best indicators of student success are involvement of the parents, motivation and genetics. Without these attributes the best teachers in the world won't make a difference. As they say with a sows ear and a silk purse.... I am the child of a teacher. I am not demeaning the profession; it is an important one. But we have to ask why do we spend more than anyone else in the world yet get such a poor ROI? Clearly spending more isn't the answer, it's spending it in the right places.
Dave Koven April 22, 2012 at 06:02 PM
235301...I totally agree with your comment about getting such a poor ROI in education. I feel that this is due to the wave of "political correctness" engulfing us now. No one can tell anyone anything without risking a fight or lawsuit. Parenting has become a shambles due to the speeding up of the workspace from electronic advances. Working parents are tired and on-call from work practically 24/7. Parental guilt has set in, and parents want to be "buddies" to make up for all the lost family time. Kids, being kids, take the easy way most of the time. Parents look the other way and pile more and more on the schools to do that the family used to do. This costs money to the schools, and the kids know they really won't have to answer to anyone. Much money could be saved, and academic standards be raised, by merely removing the chronic disrupters from the classrooms and send them elsewhere for THEIR classes. Hollywood also needs to be taken to task for their glorifying the "spit in the face of authority" lifestyle that is so popular in our culture. We need to tone down the violence in kid's video games, it desensitizes them. American culture needs to look up to teachers and learners to the point that kids want to be just like them. 235301, re-read my earlier comments. Finally, remove all politicking from education. Administrators are more politicians than educators, hence they are an expensive redundancy.
Dave Koven April 22, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Audi fan...I agree with you too. A college degree is too loaded down with "sampler" courses designed to make you a "well-rounded" individual. This is all well and good, but what you really need to do is to concentrate in your major field since tuition is so expensive. You could probably save 2 years of tuition if this were the case. Like you said, if you found you needed to know something to make your life more complete, you could take some classes at a later date. The actual fact is that a company will train you to be the way THEY want you to be. You are often told to "forget everything you learned in college", and "welcome to the real world".

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